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3 Euro Sports Stars

05/24/2009 Comment

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In a not necessarily respectful, but nonetheless instructive, piece, Paul Doyle at the Guardian runs down “10 Pious Types” in (European) sports.

Here are three Catholics he covers:

“Holy shirt — Athletes of Christ, 1979: Former Brazil No. 1 Joao Leite didn’t merely join a church, he established one. Already known as ‘God’s Goalkeeper’ because of his adhesion to the Evangelist Church, in 1979 Leite formed the Athletes of Christ movement, took to presenting opponents with copies of the Bible before games and regularly daubed ‘Jesus Saves’ on his jersey. When officials eventually banned him from altering his shirt, he turned the other cheek and sniffed: ‘They can take Christ off my shirt, but nobody can remove him from my heart.’”

“Sunday service — Swindon Town, 1974: The ?rst Football League matches ever to be played on a Sunday took place on 20 January 1974. Eleven days later, Swindon Town’s 19-year-old goalkeeper Jimmy Allan, a devout Catholic, became the ?rst British player to refuse to play on the Sabbath on religious grounds. ‘I fully respect his position,’ insisted Swindon manager Les Allen. How true that statement was became a moot point — the keeper did not get a regular place in the Swindon ?rst team until 1976.”

“Water sports — Italy, 2002: Veteran Italian manager Giovanni Trapattoni, an ardent admirer of the Opus Dei sect, carried a bottle of holy water with him into the dugout when in charge of his national team at the 2002 World Cup. He is currently attempting to perform the miracle of turning the Republic of Ireland into world champions.”

Filed under weekend commentary

About Guest Blogger/Tom Hoopes

Tom  Hoopes
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Tom Hoopes is Vice President of College Relations and writer in residence at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas. He has written for the Register for more than 20 years and was its executive editor for 10. His writing has appeared in First Things’ First Thoughts, National Review Online, Crisis, Our Sunday Visitor, Inside Catholic and Columbia. He has served as press secretary for the Chairman of the U.S. House Ways & Means Committee. He and his wife, April, were editorial co-directors of Faith & Family magazine for 5 years. They have nine children.