“I play for you, my Lord, so that the scream for a goal can turn into an ode to friendship,” rings the pre-match “footballer’s prayer” recited by every player from the Italian Priests’ national team on game days. Created in 2005, the Catholic Church’s team of priests plays matches against other religious orders or representatives of other Italian professions including pianists, real-estate agents and antenna fixers.

“For us, it’s a spiritual exercise,” says coach Moreno Buccianti, “So after the first half I replace the whole first string with reserves.”