José María Villalón, Atlético de Madrid’s doctor, to treat the pope’s knee osteoarthritis

The Catholic leader "is a charming patient and very stubborn in the sense that he does not want certain surgical proposals," said specialist José María Villalón. He also said that they talked about soccer

The head of the medical services of Atletico Madrid has been called to help Pope Francis with a knee problem he has been suffering from for some time, according to the COPE channel of the Spanish Episcopal Conference on its website.

He is José María Villalón, who the Vatican summoned as part of a group of specialists requested by the Vatican embassy in Spain and the Spanish bishops to see if he can offer solutions that do not involve surgery.

The Pope frequently uses a wheelchair or cane because of this problem. As Villalón explained, the 85-year-old pontiff suffers from arthritis, which causes inflammation of the joints and limits his movements.

Francis is “a charming patient and very stubborn in the sense that he does not want certain surgical proposals,” Villalón told COPE. “He has a great personality. He is well, very lucid, a very grateful man, very nice, very pleasant. He also likes soccer, and we talked about it.”

Also, he said he felt “nervous” about the “responsibility” of treating the Catholic leader. “It is an honor to have this patient and, above all, a responsibility because he is a world figure,” Villalón said.

Audience in the Vatican (Reuters)
Audience in the Vatican (Reuters)

He added that there were additional difficulties because Francis is not an ordinary patient and has a busy schedule of activities. “But I am optimistic,” he said. “The pope can be helped.”

The pope has had to cancel or reduce his activities several times over the past year because of pain in his right knee.

Born in Buenos Aires, he is an avid supporter of Argentina’s San Lorenzo and liked to play goalkeeper in his youth.

(With information from AFP and Ansa)