Argentina has seen its fair share of great athletes emerge from the South American country. Lionel Messi instantly comes to mind as soccer’s best player while current Spurs guard Manu Ginobili has played an integral role in the country’s presence on the hardwood. However, on Wednesday, Argentine stars like Messi and Ginobili took a back seat to the newly appointed pope.
Argentina native Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now known as Pope Francis, officially replaced Pope Benedict as head of the Catholic Church.
“An Argentine being in charge of a billion people is not something that happens often,” Ginobili said during Thursday’s shootaround. “Catholicism is the main religion in my country and, of course, it is a big thing.”
Ginobili, who found out about the news while eating lunch on Wednesday, admitted he was surprised, yet proud of the news, according to Spurs Nation.
“It is incredible,” Ginobili told reporters. “We were watching and when we heard the name I said, ‘What? Did we hear it right?’
“We were all in shock. The country is going crazy.”
On Thursday, The Associated Press reported that Pope Francis is a bit of a sports fan. The Argentine pope has long been a supporter of the soccer club San Lorenzo. Ironically, San Lorenzo’s nickname is the Saints while its rival club Independiente is nicknamed the Red Devils.