Rome - Argentine football legend Diego Maradona says the fabled "hand of God" was at work once more in delivering the papacy to his country.
"What joy," Maradona wrote to Italian daily Il Messaggero. "In my country the 'hand of God' has now brought about an Argentine pope."
Maradona, whose handball goal helped Argentina beat England and pave the way to World Cup glory in 1986, described himself as a "fervent Catholic".
"Having a pope from our country is a great honour for all of Argentina," he wrote in the letter published on Thursday.
Buenos Aires Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the first Latin American pontiff, defied expert predictions with his election on Wednesday, becoming Pope Francis.