In an audience with His Holiness, Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham presented Pope Francis with a Manchester United shirt signed by Lisandro Martinez.
The attached message from the defender read, “Your holiness, with much love, Licha.”
Is the Pope a Manchester United fan?
The Pope is known to be a big football fan and, hailing from Argentina, is apparently an admirer of Martinez in particular.
With the shirt supplied by the club and ‘gladly’ signed by the centre-back, the opportunity came about as part of an audience with the Pope for an interfaith group from the city at the Vatican.
Martinez sadly won’t play again this season because of the foot injury he sustained during the first leg of doomed Europa League quarter-final tie with Sevilla, but was part of Argentina’s World Cup winning squad at the end of 2022.
The former Ajax star, who followed Erik ten Hag to Manchester from Amsterdam last summer, has had a fine debut season and quickly established himself as a fan favourite against a backdrop of criticism stemming from the media and rival supporters.
He underwent successful surgery on his foot earlier this week and is expected to be available in time for the start of next season.