Lionel Messi News: Barcelona captain awarded the Creu de Sant Jordi for service to Catalonia
What's the story?
As reported by Barcelona's official website, Lionel Messi has been awarded the 'Creu de Sant Jordi' or 'St. George's Cross' for his services to Catalonia. The honour was presented by the the Generalitat de Catalunya to 28 people and 15 entities "those who, based on merit, have served Catalonia in defense of its identity, either civically or culturally."
In case you didn't know...
FC Barcelona hold huge cultural and emotional significance to the people of Catalonia, and as perhaps Barcelona's greatest ever player, Messi has captured the hearts and minds of the region's people, winning an astonishing 34 titles with the Blaugrana including 4 Champions League titles and accomplishing unsurpassable feats like a sextuple of title wins in 2009-10.
He has had yet another otherworldly season this year, scoring 48 goals and providing 16 assists in all competitions and led Barcelona to their 8th La Liga title in the last 11 years. Messi currently leads the roost in the European Golden Shoe, UEFA Champions League and La Liga Top Scorer charts.
The heart of the matter
The Generalitat de Catalunya explained their reasoning behind awarding Messi with the honour,
"Due to his fabulous sports career, in which he has been recognized as the greatest footballer of all time. A native of Argentina, he arrived in Catalonia at a very young age to join the lower categories of Futbol Club Barcelona. In a sport for the masses, like football, Leo Messi embodies such basic social attributes as humility, honesty, education, creativity, teamwork, and respect.
They also stressed on the various charitable initiatives the Argentine talisman had partaken in as part of the Lionel Messi foundation.
"He also created the Leo Messi Foundation, which works for the benefit of children and youth, having collaborated with several medical centers in Catalonia, among which stands out his contribution to the construction of the Sant Joan de Déu Pediatric Cancer Center."
Messi became the second FC Barcelona player to win the award, with the legendary Johan Cruyff having been bestowed with the same accolade in 2006. The Creu de Sant Jordi is the second highest civilian distinction awarded by the Catalonian government, only behind the Gold Medal of the Generalitat de Catalunya.
It remains to be seen if Messi features in Barcelona's final LaLiga game of the season against Eibar on Sunday. Valverde will want to conserve his star man's energy for the Copa del Rey final versus Valencia on 26th May.