The Vatican has recruited the head doctor of a Madrid soccer team among a team of specialists to help treat Pope Francis’ knee problem.
Newsroom (27/11/2022 7:17 PM, Gaudium Press) — José María Villalón, a sports medicine specialist and the head doctor of the Atlético de Madrid soccer team, described the pope as a “very stubborn patient” in a radio interview this week.
The doctor said that Pope Francis is “a very nice and very stubborn patient in the sense that there are surgical procedures that he does not want. We have to offer him more conservative treatments so that he will agree to them.”
“Sometimes it starts with a joint with osteoarthritis and other joints deteriorate because they are overloaded,” he said. “We are trying to make sure that this does not advance and that things get better.”
Villalón said that he was contacted by both the Apostolic Nunciature in Spain and the Spanish bishops’ conference, who “asked a group of specialists if we could help the pope.”
Pope Francis, who turns 86 next month, has alternated between using a wheelchair and a walking cane since May.
Earlier this month, the pope told journalists that he was in “a lot of pain” on a flight to Bahrain. Pope Francis has previously cancelled public appearances and trips due to his knee trouble, including a scheduled trip to Africa in July.
Villalón said that at first, he was “nervous” during his first communication with the pope, but that they bonded because “he likes soccer.”
In particular, the pope expressed his fondness for Atlético de Madrid’s striker, Ángel Correa, an Argentine soccer player who used to play for the San Lorenzo soccer club in Buenos Aires.
- Raju Hasmukh with files from CNA