Barcelona forward, Lionel Messi was presented with the Creu de Sant Jordi award, for his services to Catalonia, becoming only the second Blaugrana player ever to receive the honor.
The award was created in 1981 and is the highest civil distinction handed out by the Catalan regional government. The award recognizes individuals and institutions who have served Catalonia and the protection of the region's identity. According to Barca Blaugranes, 28 individuals and 15 organizations are handed the award every year for outstanding services to the region.
Messi received the award directly from Catalonia president, Quim Torra, and was described as the "greatest footballer of all time" who "embodies such basic social attributes as humility, honesty, education, creativity, teamwork, and respect". In picking up the award, Messi became only the second footballer ever to be honored with the accolade, after the legendary Johan Cruyff.