Not long after Pelé passed away, another public figure has followed in his footsteps — this time in the form of Pope Benedict XVI, who passed away on New Year’s Eve at the age of 95. Benedict XVI was the successor of Pope (now St.) John Paul II (who used to be a goalkeeper) and the predecessor of Pope Francis. If you didn’t know already, Benedict XVI was a Bayern Munich fan.
Joseph Ratzinger (his real name) was a Bavarian himself and he would often speak about football. He once said on a trip to Italy (via Daily Star): “The sport of football can be a vehicle of education for the values of honesty, solidarity and fraternity, especially for the younger generation.” Of all the clubs, Bayern was the one he held closest to his heart.
He succeeded John Paul II who died in 2005, a year before the 2006 World Cup in Germany. However, he was unable to watch the games live and instead watched from a black-and-white TV in Vatican City as Italy won their fourth title since 1982 (where they beat West Germany in the first of three straight final appearances).
When Bayern smashed Roma 7-1 in 2014, they paid a visit to Pope Francis (himself a San Lorenzo fan), who had been pope for a year since Ratzinger stepped down due to health reasons, the first in 598 years.
Interestingly, Pope Benedict XVI stepped down on February 28, 2013 – not long before Bayern became the first German team to win the treble. Maybe he sensed that they would win everything?