Long-time Argentine coach Alfio "Coco" Basile said that during his time at the helm of San Lorenzo, he asked Jorge Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, to leave the dressing room so he would not distract the players.
In 1998, when Basile took charge of the club, he told Argentine TV program "Linea de Tiempo" that one of the first measures he took was to end the practice of having a priest "always greeting the players before a match."
Basile said: "I didn't want anyone to distract my players, I told Miele [former president of San Lorenzo] to get rid of the priest. If my players couldn't win any matches, why ask the priest to come in again? Miele told him and the priest left."
Basile said he didn't realize that the priest he threw out became Pope Francis until he had a chance meeting with Miele in April of 2012.
"He told me, 'Did you see who is the pope?' and then he said with a laugh, 'It was Bergoglio, the priest you kicked out of the San Lorenzo dressing room. I am going to see him in Rome and I am going to tell him the story.'"
Pope Francis is a self-declared Saints fan. Since he became pope in March 2013, San Lorenzo have won a local title as well as the Copa Libertadores for the first time in their history. Club officials have travelled twice to the Vatican carrying the trophies to thank the pope and some joke that the club has been getting some help from above.
San Lorenzo had been the only top Argentine club yet to win Latin America's most important club competition. The title secured the 12-time Argentine champions a spot in FIFA's Club World Cup in December.