Germany defender defender Mats Hummels has described how the squad experienced “an unforgettable moment” after meeting Pope Francis.
The national team had spent a day in Rome following their 8-0 win against European minnows San Marino in a World Cup qualifier on Sunday, visiting the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican City.
Germany then move on to Milan for a friendly against Italy at the San Siro on Tuesday night.
Pope Francis was presented with a Germany shirt after granting the squad a 20-minute audience, which came little more than two years since they beat his Argentina team in the World Cup final.
“It was an impressive meeting, an unforgettable moment,” Bayern Munich defender Hummels said. “It was unreal to meet him in person, I only knew him from the telly.”
DFB president Reinhard Grindel said the audience “was a moment which no one will ever forget. The Pope made it easy for us. He is a man with an infectious warmth and friendliness. It was a date he obviously enjoyed. The meeting with the footballers opened his heart.”
Team manager Oliver Bierhoff added: “It was impressive for the players. A successful team trip.”