In the third extract from his forthcoming autobiography, Brendan Rodgers describes the day the Pope had the honour of meeting him.
“This must be a huge honour for you,” I said as I shook his hand and patted his cheek. “Please Your Holiness, sit. You must have many questions.”
His Holiness hung on my every word. Two great shepherds on one couch. He of the Catholic flock, and me of the Scouse. His job was obviously a little simpler than mine, but I certainly didn’t look down on him.
“Football is like a religion,” I explained.
“No it isn’t,” he replied.
“We’ll have to agree to disagree,” I said.
“I don’t agree to that,” he shot back.
The conversation got a little testy, escalating into a full-blown arm wrestling contest. I put His Holiness back in his box over the course of a Best of 3, and afterwards we got on much better.
“Call me day or night,” I told him after we’d swapped numbers. “If you need advice on how to motivate your cardinals, just pick up the phone. Or God forbid if a bishop bites someone, I have experience in that area.”
With his time with me running out, I took His Holiness’s head and cradled it to my bosom. After a minute or so he managed to wriggle free.
“I will bless you, my child,” he told me.
“No no no,” I replied. “You do enough blessing. This one’s on me Your Holiness.”
I joined my hands and bowed my head.
“Lord, it’s Brendan,” I said. “Brendan Rodgers. I’m here with the Pope. He’s an outstanding pope. Shows great character. Please grant him the grace to inspire Catholics like I have Liverpool fans the world over. Mould him in my image, or as close as is possible.”
“Amen,” said His Holiness, and that was the last I heard from him. It was only later that I discovered he’d given me a fake number. Disappointing.