Spain Internationals Iker Casillas and Xavi Hernández were jointly awarded the prestigious Prince of Asturias award for Sport on Friday at an elegant ceremony in the Principality’s capital Oviedo.
The Real Madrid goalkeeper and Barcelona midfielder succeed Ethiopian distance runner Haile Gebrselassie who won the sports award last year.
It’s the second time in three years the accolade has gone to the football world after the Spanish national team were voted to the top for their achievements in 2010.
Although on-field with their clubs Casillas and Xavi are bitter rivals the pair admit to having a long-standing friendship.
Real Madrid’s shot-stopper said: ‘‘As Xavi says, we have known each other for many years, since we were children. We grew up step by step with parallel lives. And now we have reached a professional level with parallel careers in all the fields.”
Xavi added: ‘‘I am very happy because of the meaning of this award, because it’s prestigious and because I have won it with a friend of so many years, he was a friend even before we became professional. So yes, it is a day to celebrate with Iker.’‘
The Asturias Awards were presented by the heir to Spain’s throne and alongside sport it honours achievements in the sciences, humanities, and public affairs.