‘The Pope said the Church was concerned about poor kids. Sell the Vatican’s gold ceilings, mate!’ Diego Maradona’s blast at John Paul II revealed after Argentine legend said Pontiff showed ‘lack of respect’ for not giving him a special rosary
- Argentine football legend Diego Maradona died on Wednesday at the age of 60
- Tale of Maradona’s audience with Pope John Paul II in 2000 has come to light
- Maradona accused the Pope of a ‘lack of respect’ over rosary he was given
- He later blasted the Catholic Church over their attitude towards world’s poor
- Maradona suggested they should sell the ornate ceilings in the Vatican
- He would see his faith restored by the current Argentina Pope Francis
Diego Maradona once accused Pope John Paul II of showing him a ‘total lack of respect’ and challenged the Pontiff to sell the ornate ceilings in the Vatican to feed the world’s poor.
The tale of the Argentine football legend’s audience with the Pope in 2000 has come to light following his death on Wednesday at the age of 60.
Maradona was upset that Pope John Paul gave him the same rosary as everyone else rather than a special one when they met in Rome 20 years ago.
Diego Maradona (left) was left distinctly unimpressed following an audience with Pope John Paul II (right) in 2000 and accused the Pontiff of a ‘lack of respect’
Maradona later suggested the Catholic Church should sell the ornate ceilings in the Vatican if they truly wanted to make a difference to the world’s poor (pictured is the ‘Creation of Adam’
And it potentially helped explain a later outburst against the head of the Catholic Church when he said: ‘I’ve been to the Vatican and seen the gold ceilings. And then I hear the Pope saying that the Church was concerned about poor kids.
‘So? Sell the ceilings, mate! You’ve got nothing going for you. You were only a goalkeeper.’
Maradona doubled down on his views when he returned to the Vatican in 2014, saying: ‘I went into the Vatican and saw that golden roof. And I said to myself how could somebody be such a son of a b**** as to live with a golden roof and then go to poor countries and kiss children with a full belly? I stopped believing.’
By that time, Maradona’s faith had been restored by the current Pope, and Argentine compatriot, Francis.
Maradona pictured during a private audience with Pope John Paul at the Vatican in 1985
Maradona later found his faith again under the Argentine Pope Francis and presented him with a No 10 shirt during a visit to the Vatican in 2014
Maradona admitted he ‘had drifted away from the Church, but Francisco brought me back’
‘I had drifted away from the Church, but Francisco brought me back,’ he said before playing in the Vatican-organised Match for Peace.
During his audience, Maradona presented Pope Francis with an Argentina national team shirt with ‘Francisco’ and the No 10 on the reverse and signed by the football legend.
Pope John Paul II, whose papacy ran from 1978 until 2005, played football during his upbringing in Poland and was a goalkeeper. He supported the Polish team Cracovia, who retired the No 1 jersey in his honour.
Maradona died after suffering a heart attack at his home, two weeks after leaving hospital following surgery for a bleed on the brain, prompting an international outpouring of grief.