Lionel Messi was honored by the Catalonia government on Thursday as he received the Creu de Sant Jordi (St. George’s Cross) award in a special ceremony.
Leo Messi receives the Creu de Sant Jordi 2019, one of the highest civil distinctions awarded in Catalonia. pic.twitter.com/yLsDDNWIjB— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) May 16, 2019
The award is given out annually to 28 individuals and 15 organisations in recognition of their outstanding services to the region and is one of Catalonia’s highest honours.
Lionel Messi receives the Creu de Sant Jordi award, one of the highest awards in Catalonia pic.twitter.com/FSyc5y2nwD— B/R Football (@brfootball) May 16, 2019
The president of Catalonia, Quim Torra, presented Messi with his award which rewarded not just his sporting excellence but also his work away from the pitch.
Messi was described as the “greatest footballer of all time” who “embodies such basic social attributes as humility, honesty, education, creativity, teamwork, and respect.”
There was also praise for the Leo Messi Foundation which has helped build the SJD Pediatric Cancer Center in Barcelona.
Messi is not the first Barcelona footballer to be recognised with this prestigious award, a certain Johan Cruyff was also honoured in 2006.