Soccer Players Pay a Visit to Pope

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 11, 2003 ( John Paul II received the players of the Italian soccer team and a delegation of the Polish team, who came to congratulate him for his 25 years of pontificate.

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Fabio Cannavaro, captain of the Italian team, gave the Holy Father as a gift the Italian players’ commitment to fund long-distance adoptions of needy children.

Today’s meeting with Italy’s and Poland’s players took place on the eve of a friendly match between the two soccer teams, planned for Wednesday in Warsaw.

For their part, the Polish players gave the Pope the white soccer shirt of their national team, signed by all the players.

The players were accompanied by Italian trainer Giovanni Trapattoni, Polish team captain Jacek Zielinski and Polish goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek.

“I thank you for this kind initiative and, while I assure each one of my remembrance in prayer, I give you all my heartfelt blessing,” the Pope said.

The Italian Soccer Federation requested the special audience, for the silver anniversary of the pontificate.

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