The head of the Catholic Church admits to taking "joy" from the performances of a fellow Argentine, but believes high praise is wrongly bestowed.Pope Francis admits to taking "joy" from the ability of fellow Argentine Lionel Messi, but is eager to point out that the Barcelona talisman "is not God".
During the summer of 2013, Messi and the rest of the Albiceleste squad took in a meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican.
The pontiff was speaking to host Jordi Evole on the "Salvados" programme broadcast on Spanish TV channel La Sexta when he was asked about people referring to Messi as "God".
However, Messi is yet to play in a World Cup-winning side for his native Argentina. You can't say it, I don't believe. People can say he is God, just as they may say "I adore you" but only God can be worshiped. "He is a god with a ball on the pitch", they are popular ways of expressing oneself". Subscribe to our SMS sports service by texting "SPORTS" to 22840.More news: Nipsey Hussle Killed Outside Marathon Store In Los Angeles
Speaking about Messi's skill, Pope Francis said: "Of course, he brings happiness, but he isn't God".
The goals - one of which was recorded as an OG by Madrid-based outlet Marca, to much consternation among Barca fans - mean Messi has now scored at least 40 times 10 seasons in a row.
Espanyol captain Victor Sanchez committed the foul on Messi that prompted the set-piece and then, in an apparent attempt to outwit the Argentina worldwide, retreated to his goal line and inadvertently directed the ball past goalkeeper Diego Lopez.