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Pope hears of Claret's Premier League promotion joy
9:07am Monday 28th April 2014 in News
Just days after securing promotion to the Premier League, champagne showered the players who fought so hard for top-flight football next season.
And it is not just fans in Burnley who are overjoyed at the achievement. News of the success has now spread to Pope Francis during an audience with cardinals at The Vatican.
Clarets fan Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier, from Durban in South Africa, last week promised to tell the pontiff about the amazing run when he met him on Saturday.
He remained true to his word, but the Argentinean religious leader said he had to remain unbiased when it came to all things football.
Cardinal Napier tweeted: “Mentioned Burnley’s achievement to Pope when he told us about Brazil President’s: “Please Holy Father, remain neutral during World Cup!
“His response was evidence of similar neutrality. Obviously didn't want to upset anyone. But secretly I know he will support the little ones!”
The Cardinal has voiced his support for Burnley over the past week, taking to social networking sites to express his joy at the promotion.
He posted: “Congratulations, Burnley! Once again you’ve gained the prize by dint of hard work and dedication, not a big bank balance. God bless you all!
“Who knows? With Pope Francis’s influence, Burnley might surprise even the ‘big boys’! Can’t wait for next season!!!!”
Fr John Mackie, from St Veronica’s Church in Helmshore, said he was delighted the Pope had been told about how well the club had done.
He said: “It is very nice that the team’s successes have been shared with the Pope. You never know, he might come and visit the town the next time he is in England.”
Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle added: “Obviously, the Burnley football team are supported all round the world, at all levels, but I didn’t realise they had a Cardinal as a supporter, and that this Cardinal has told the Pope is absolutely amazing.”
And as the pontiff was being told about the achievements in Burnley, the celebrations at Turf Moor were continuing in style.
Following a 1-0 win over Ipswich Town, in which the players donned shirts emblazoned with the royal crest to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the FA Cup win against Liverpool, the team was presented with the runners-up trophy.
Sam Vokes, who has recently had an operation to repair a ruptured cruciate ligament in his left knee, was congratulated by manager Sean Dyche before joining the rest of the team.
The delighted players completed a lap of honour around the pitch with the team inviting their children on to the pitch to share the special moment as fans waved flags declaring: ‘Burnley promoted. We are Premier League’.
Dyche gave his son and daughter a huge kiss and cuddle, while Junior Stanislas and his son Alex posed happily for the cameras.
Captain Jason Shackell was joined by his son who wore his proud dad’s medal. Meanwhile, goalkeeper Tom Heaton gave his match-winning gloves to youngster Harrison Rafferty who was cheering his team on in the stands.
The end-of-season party, which is due to be held at Turf Moor, is a sell-out, with 550 people expected to turn up.
Julie Cooper, leader of Burnley Council, said she was delighted at the reputation the football team and the town was getting on an international stage.
She said: “To hear we are making news internationally and that the Pope knows about us, it just gets better and better.”
It is absolutely fantastic. We are all so proud of them. Burnley is on the big stage.
“To hear we are making news internationally and that the Pope, one of the most important figures in the world, knows about us, it just gets better and better.”
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