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Diego Maradona once told Pope John Paul II to sell the gold ceilings at the Vatican if he wanted to help the poor.
The Argentinian football icon, who died yesterday (Wednesday 25 November) aged 60, said the late head of the Catholic Church showed him a 'total lack of respect' when he visited in 2000.
According to The Independent, Maradona said in a subsequent outburst: "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."
The former Boca Juniors, Barcelona and Napoli star shared this view with reporters more recently when he visited the Vatican before a charity football match.
According to El Pais, he said: "I went into the Vatican and saw that golden roof. And I said to myself how could somebody be such a son of bitch as to live with a golden roof and then go to poor countries and kiss children with a full belly? I stopped believing."
However, Maradona said his faith was restored by current head of the Catholic Church and fellow Argentine, Pope Francis.
Speaking prior to the Vatican-organised Match for Peace, he said: "When they told me we were playing for the kids in Amatrice I knew I couldn't miss this match.
"Francis can rest assured that Maradona is going to be on the pitch for 90 minutes. I had drifted away from the Church, but Francisco brought me back."
Argentina is in mourning following the passing of the football legend, who is considered to be one of the very best to ever play the beautiful game.
He died after suffering a heart attack at his home, just two weeks after the World Cup winner left hospital having undergone brain surgery.
Tributes have flooded social media:
The world awaits our words but there are no words to describe the pain we're going through. Now is the time to grieve.- Official SSC Napoli (@en_sscnapoli) November 25, 2020
Diego :blue_heart: pic.twitter.com/40TTOIDNQ4
Always a delight to be in his company. :raised_hands: https://t.co/SfTo8SLqlR- Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) November 25, 2020
Eternas gracias. Eterno Diego. pic.twitter.com/SZVNOJnZ1j- Boca Jrs. Oficial (desde :house_with_garden:) (@BocaJrsOficial) November 25, 2020
Thank you for everything, Diego pic.twitter.com/bJ9l3ixY7A- FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) November 25, 2020
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