Ivan Rakitic has been revealed as the winner of the 9th edition of the Premi Barça Jugadors (Barça Players Award) for fair play in the 2017-18 season, presented by the Barça Players Group. Club president Josep Maria Bartomeu and the president of the Group, Ramon Alfonseda, were on hand this Friday to hand over the prize in Sala Roma at the Camp Nou.
“It’s an honour to win this award. It will be given pride of place at home” said the Croatian. “There is nothing nicer than being at the best club in the world. I feel very fortunate to be able to defend this badge.”
Speaking on the team’s current situation, he continued that “we are especially looking forward to Sunday’s game at Mestalla after working so hard at Wembley. It won’t be easy because there are no easy games in La Liga, but we need to recover our strength for this one.”
He described his magnificent volleyed goal against Spurs on Wednesday as “one of the best I have ever scored, even more so because it was our second on the way to beating one of the best teams in Europe. I’ll never forget that goal.”
Bartomeu also took to the microphone, and dedicated some special words to his midfield asset. “We will always be grateful to Ivan for his personal decision to come to Barça” he said. “He does so much for the team and club. It’s not easy to play here. There are high demands for every game and in every competition. He has won everything at Barça and I’m so happy that he has wanted to stay here.”
For the first time since this special prize was awarded for the first time in 2010, the players themselves were involved in the voting. They were called on to draw up a shortlist of six, which along with Rakitic also included Andrés Iniesta, Leo Messi, Gerard Piqué, Sergi Roberto and Marc André Ter Stegen.
A jury then decided who would receive the trophy, and the 2018 World Cup finalist was chosen in light of his prudence, humility and down-to-earth nature, as well as the way he has adapted to the club and its culture.
There was also a special mention at the awards ceremony for José Antonio Zaldúa, the Barça of the 1960s who died last June 30.