Pope exalts Messi above Pele, Maradona

Leader of Catholic Church believes fellow Argentine to be finest footballer in history of game

Sports Desk August 01, 2016
Lionel Messi takes part in a team training session at St George's Park near Burton-on-Trent, England, on July 26, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

The leader of the Catholic Church believes that Lionel Messi is the finest footballer in the history of the game.

Speaking to young men and women participating in World Youth Day, Pope Francis proclaimed fellow Argentine as the best footballer ever. “For me, [Lionel] Messi is better than Maradona and Pele,” he said.

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The Barcelona forward has constantly been compared to past greats Pele and Diego Maradona, while also going head-to-head with current Real Madrid rival Cristiano Ronaldo.

However, the 29-year-old endured a difficult Copa America Centenario, stunning the world when he announced his retirement from national team duty after Argentina lost to Chile on penalties in the final.

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The five-time Ballon d’Or winner finally returned to the pitch as Barcelona kicked off their La Liga preparations with a 3-1 win over Celtic in the International Champions Cup on Saturday.

This article originally appeared on Goal.com

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