Former greats such as Diego Armando Maradona, Roberto Baggio, Diego Simeone, Carlos Valderrama and Ivan Zamorano put on a show here Monday at an interfaith charity match inspired by Pope Francis, an avid soccer fan.
The team named for the pope’s Scholas educational project lost 6-3 to a squad representing retired Argentine soccer player Javier Zanetti’s Pupi Foundation.
“Good evening, I am delighted that you are gathered to celebrate this very symbolic match, where what stands out is the union of the teams, the union of those who are participating as spectators and the desire of everyone for peace,” the Argentine pontiff said in a message appearing on the big screens at Rome’s Olympic stadium prior to kickoff.
Francis received the players at the Vatican earlier Monday.
The 53-year-old Maradona, who played the entire 90 minutes, wowed the crowd with a perfect pass to set up Baggio’s goal in the 41st minute.
Besides stars of yesteryear, the match featured current standouts such as Andrea Pirlo, Samuel Eto’o, Gianluigi Buffon, Andriy Shevchenko, Roque Santa Cruz, Gabriel Heinze and Javier Mascherano.