POPE Francis cheered fellow Argentine Lionel Messi and other football stars as he led a rally of sorts at the Vatican for Argentina and Italy’s national teams ahead of a friendly match.
Francis, the first pontiff from Latin America, is an avid football fan who roots for the Saints of San Lorenzo back in Buenos Aires – so the spiritual leader arranged to meet stars including Andrea Pirlo and Messi in a a private audience in the Apostolic Palace ahead of Wednesday’s match, which is being played in tribute to the new pope.
One of Italy’s national team members, Mario Balotelli, who is black and has been the target of fans’ racism, was the only player to get private time with the pope. Francis and the striker spoke together in a small room off the sumptuous Clementine Hall where the audience was held.
A Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Ciro Benedettini, said Balotelli looked “emotional” after their talk but that the player declined to say what he discussed with Francis.
Francis also dodged the question of whether he’d offer a papal blessing for his home country’s team. “It will really be a bit difficult for me to root, but luckily it’s a friendly match.”
SOMETIMES, really, a headline is all you need.
But in case you want a few more details, former Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli has splashed out on a new purchase, a pet pig.
And the Italy forward, now plying his trade at AC Milan, has revealed on Twitter that he’s named his new porcine pal Super.
SO THE dust is now settling on another deadline day’s deals, and to help showcase some of the best business done today, here’s my top team of players who were on the move.
Minus Peter Odemwingie, for obvious reasons…
GK – Butland (Stoke)
DEF – Shea (Stoke), Samba (QPR), Monreal (Arsenal)
MID – Beckham (PSG), Jenas (QPR), Scharner (Wigan), Townsend (QPR)
ATK – Graham (Sunderland), Balotelli (AC Milan), Becchio (Norwich)
CAN I flick it?
Forget your Pro Evos and your FIFAs – the incredible blog Subbuteo Art, dedicated to customising figures from the classic football game, has been wowing me recently.
Any fool can snap the legs off two players to make an extended-legged Peter Crouch – this work takes it to the next level.
Some examples above include Rene Higuita’s scorpion kick, a flexing Mario Balotelli, a mulleted Neymar and a overkick kicking Wayne Rooney.
To see more, click on http://subbuteo-art.blogspot.co.uk/
Right, now where are my paintbrushes…
ITALY went cruising into the finals of Euro 2012 last night after Mario Balotelli didn’t lose his head, striking a brace against Germany.
But regardless of the on field action, last night I couldn’t stop spying at Italian manager Cesare Prandelli – I was loving the fact he’s the spitting image of Carry On star Kenneth Connor!
At your convenience, I have placed the two together for you to see for yourselves.
MANCHESTER City striker Mario Balotelli has been shortlisted for an award by heavy metal magazine Kerrang!
The footballer is up for Hero Of The Year at the K! Awards – against Ronnie Radke of Falling in Reverse, M Shadows of Avenged Sevenfold, Jared Leto of 30 Seconds to Mars and Rou Reynolds of Enter Shikari.
“Much is made of how fun and debauched the Kerrang! awards are,” said James McMahon, the magazine’s editor.
Mario should fit right in then.
IN REVEALING a two-year affair with Manchester City star Mario Balotelli, Chloe Evans has spilled the beans on the striker’s love of cross-dressing.
Apparently the Italian footballer agreed to donning make-up and a blonde wig in a one off session.
Chloe recalled: “I will never forget the day I gave him a girlie makeover — he loved it.
“We were a bit bored and messing about so I turned him into a WAG for a laugh!
“We got a blonde wig and used my make-up — and before you knew it he was Marilyn Balotelli!
“It was so funny. The lipstick was a really pale pink so it was hilarious against his skin.
“I put it on him really carefully, he kept laughing so it nearly smudged. And he had loads of pink blusher on too.
“I got a blonde wig I had at the time and put that on him too to complete the look.
“Mario loved it. He started prancing around and posing in front of the mirror admiring himself.
“He shook his bum really fast doing silly moves to make me laugh. It was hilarious and then he looked in the mirror and said he was prettier than me.”
Dennis Rodman he ain’t, but still – the mind boggles.