Pope Francis, a keen soccer fan, greeted a delegation from the premier American football league's Hall of Fame on Wednesday, quipping that in his native Argentina "the game is played very differently".
"As many of you know, I am an avid follower of 'football', but where I come from, the game is played very differently! Francis said during the meeting at the Vatican ahead of his weekly general audience.
"Our world, and especially our young people, need models, persons who show us how to bring out the best in ourselves, to use our God-given gifts and talents, and, in so doing, to point the way to a better future for our societies," Francis told the NFL delegation.
Teamwork, fair play and the pursuit of personal excellence are the values that guide athletes and which are urgently needed "off the field, on all levels of our life as a community," Francis said.
"They are the values that help build a culture of encounter, in which we anticipate and meet the needs of our brothers and sisters, and combat the exaggerated individualism, indifference and injustice that hold us back from living as one human family," Francis said.