Celtic players meet Pope Francis after Champions League defeat

Pope Francis was presented with a Celtic top during the meeting at the Vatican

Celtic players and staff were granted an audience with the Pope after the club were knocked out of Europe.

Lazio defeated the Scottish champions 2-0 in Rome on Tuesday to leave them with only one point after five matches.

But Pope Francis used the meeting as an opportunity to remind the team that winning was “not the most important aspect” of sport.

The pontiff was also presented with his very own signed strip by manager Brendan Rodgers.

Addressing the Celtic party, the Pope said: “It doesn’t matter if we have won or if we have not won, it doesn’t matter.

“Everyone struggles to win, but victory is not the goal, that can be defeat: victory is the entire process of playing together, playing as a team.

“Maintain the amateur spirit. That is the most beautiful thing about sport.”

Celtic competed well for large spells against Lazio, but Ciro Immobile's late double left them facing another defeat
Image caption,Celtic competed well for large spells against Lazio, but Ciro Immobile’s late double left them with one point from five matches

He also referenced the history of the club, which was set up in 1888 with a goal of tackling poverty in Glasgow.

The Pope added: “This was truly a charitable undertaking for the sake of the most needy of our brothers and sisters.

“Yet, how much the world of football has changed since then.

“In particular, the financial footprint of the ‘Beautiful Game’ has greatly increased, and at times can risk making football only attractive for reasons of monetary profit.”

The Champions League defeat against Lazio ended Celtic’s hopes of European football after Christmas as they now cannot finish third in Group E and drop down to the Europa League.

Celtic FC and the Pope
Image caption,The meeting was held during a trip to Italy to face Roman side Lazio

On X, formerly known as Twitter, the club said it was “honoured” to have been granted an audience with Pope Francis.

Among the players present was http://kolechai.com/ captain Callum McGregor, US international Cameron Carter-Vickers and defender Liam Scales.

A number of back room staff were also in attendance.

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