Alfredo Di Stefano (l) and Pope Francis
Alfredo Di Stefano (l) and Pope Francis

Pope Francis may have played football with one of the sport's greatest players of all time while growing up in Buenos Aires.

Real Madrid legend Alfredo Di Stefano claimed it was "probable" that he played with future Pope Jorge Bergoglio played together on the streets of Argentina's capital city as youngsters.

Writing in his regular column in Spanish sports paper Marca, Di Stéfano said Bergoglio would be better placed to confirm or deny it - because everyone was in awe of the young football star while the future Pontiff was an unknown.

Di Stefano wrote: "The Pope was probably one of those kids with whom I played football in the street.

"In the neighbourhood we put together proper matches with everyone against everyone until it got dark.

"You'll have to ask him because at that time I was the famous one, from when I was very small, as I belonged to the River Plate youth academy, everyone knew me."

Du Stefano added that he was "filled with enormous joy" by the fact an Argentinian had been elected as the first Pope from Latin America.

Bergoglio and Di Stefano grew up close to one another in Buenos Aires. The future Pope lived in Flores, while the budding footballer based just five miles away in Barracas.

Du Stefano is widely regarded as one of the greatest footballers of the 20<sup>th century. Nicknamed the 'blonde arrow,' his on-pitch endeavors helped transform Real Madrid in to one of the biggest clubs in the global game. He scored in five European Cup finals in a row - winning all games.

Pope Francis is a long-time fan of Buenos Aires club San Lorenzo FC, and reportedly said his support caused "a permanent state of suffering."

Another Argentinian football legend hailed Pope Francis upon his succession to the Papacy. Diego Maradona issued a tweet bearing a slogan "the hand of God approves of the new Pope."