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The Barça striker is one of 28 people and 15 entities that have been awarded by the Generalitat de Catalunya, which bestows this distinction upon "those who, based on merit, have served Catalonia in defense of its identity, either civically or culturally."
The Argentinian was accompanied by a notable contingent of Club officials, led by FC Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu, first vice president Jordi Cardoner, Football Area vice president Jordi Mestre, third vice president and head of Espai Barça Jordi Moix, Board member Silvio Elias, Digital Area director Dídac Lee, Board member Emili Roussaud, Commercial Area director Josep Pont, and Board Cultural delegate Teresa Basilio.
Also in attendance were Club CEO Òscar Grau, football manager Josep Segura, first team technical secretary Éric Abidal and first team director of Sporting and Institutional Relations Guillermo Amor, among others.
An exemplary athlete
Messi was decorated, according to the Generalitat on 30 April, "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."
It was also pointed out that Messi had "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's 34 titles are the most in Barça history. His 600 goals are tops as well. His 685 appearances are second only to Xavi Hernández. And his 486 wins are also the most.
Messi is also now just the third Club athlete to receive the Creu de Sant Jordi, after Juan Antonio San Epifanio, Epi, in 1996 and Johan Cruyff in 2006.
Other figures related to Barça who received the Creu de Sant Jordi are Josep Maria Espinàs, co-author of the Cant del Barça (1983), and Francesc Mitjans, the architect of Camp Nou (1996). In addition, some 15 former FC Barcelona directors have received the Creu de Sant Jordi since it was created in 1981.
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