FC Barcelona captain Leo Messi has received one of Catalonia’s highest civil distinctions in an event on Thursday evening. President of Catalonia, Quim Torra, awarded the Creu de Sant Jordi, or St. George’s Cross, to 28 individuals and 15 entities, among them the Barça phenom. The award recognizes services given to Catalonia.
The president highlighted the footballer’s “humility and honesty” as one of the reasons Messi was given the accolade, as well as being “the greatest football player of all time.” Torra also went on to praise Messi for his “ability to learn, creativity, sense of team,” and also for his “respect,” as exemplified by his charitable donation to the Hospital Sant Joan de Déu, allowing them to build a new Pediatric Cancer Center.
The Argentine star has broken many records and has won unparalleled honors at the Catalan football club, including four Champions League titles and 10 La Liga crowns. Messi is now the second ever footballer to be given the Creu de Sant Jordi, after Barça icon Johan Cruyff received it in 2006.
The 31-year-old is also the club’s top scorer of all time, with 600 goals to his name for the Catalan giants in 685 appearances. Messi could yet add another honor to his collection, as Barcelona take on Valencia in the final of the Copa del Rey on May 25. So revered in the country is Leo Messi that twice as many children named “Leo” were born in Catalonia in 2017 than were born named “Jordi,” one of the most traditionally popular names in the land.