Lionel Messi has added another award to his impressive list, and in doing so has followed in the footsteps of another Barcelona legend.
The Barcelona star received the ‘Creu de Sant Jordi’, an award which recognises individuals and institutions who have served Catalonia and the protection of the region’s identity.
The award, which was created in 1981, is the second-highest civil distinction handed out by the Catalan regional government and given out annually to multiple recipients.
The Argentine star has enjoyed a stellar career at the Liga giants since joining them at age 13, becoming synonymous with the club while staking a claim as one of the greatest to ever play the game.
He has won more titles than any player in club history with 34, is Barcelona’s top all-time goal scorer with 598 strikes, has won more game than any other player in their history (482) and is second in all-time appearances for them behind Xavi.
And this season, his first as club captain, the 31-year-old Messi has shown no signs of slowing down, having netted a Liga-leading 34 times, while adding 13 assists as Barcelona took hope yet another league title.
He’s also scored twice as the club shoot for their second straight domestic double, and added another 12 goals and three assists in their run to the Champions League semi-finals.
Messi is not the first footballer to be honored with the Creu de Sant Jordi, nor is he the first icon at the club to receive it.
The late Johan Cruyff, who starred for Barcelona as both a player, from 1973-78, and coach, between 1988-96, was among the individual recipients in 2006.
Cruyff won a Liga title and Copa del Rey during his time with the club as a player, and would guide them to their first-ever European Cup as well as four straight league triumphs from 1990-94 during his time as a coach.
Three years after winning the Creu de Sant Jordi, Cruyff was named head coach of the Catalonia football team, and guided them until 2013.
The club itself was given the award as an institution in 1992.
The Liga title already decided, Messi and company close out the league season on Sunday against Eibar before battling for the Copa del Rey against Valencia six days later.