Javier Mascherano and Josep Maria Bartomeu with Aldo Rovira's family - PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ

Javier Mascherano has been named FC Barcelona player of the year for 2013/14. On Wednesday morning, the Argentinian was presented with the award that honours Aldo Rovira, a club member who died in an accident in 2009. The recipient is decided each year by a jury formed by senior figures in the Catalan and Spanish media. Leo Messi has won three of the four previous editions, while Éric Abidal was honoured in 2011/12.

There was quite some debate at first, Javier. But when your name came up, the response was unanimousSeveral dignitaries attended the ceremony at the Camp Nou, including FC Barcelona president Josep María Bartomeu, who was delighted to see the midfielder/centre back being recognised for his wonderful contribution to the team last year. “I was part of the jury that chose Javier Mascherano” he said. “And I have to tell you, Javier, that there was quite some debate at first. But when your name came up, the response was unanimous and so this a very well deserved prize. It’s an honour for Barça to have a player like you.”

Aldo Rovira’s father, Josep Lluís Rovira, added that “awarding the prize to ‘Masche’ was the right thing to do, as we saw yesterday when he was named as a candidate for the Ballon d’Or … He is a player with so many virtues. He took money out his own pocket to come here from Liverpool and gives 100 per cent wherever he is played. I want you to take over where Carles Puyol left off”.

Gushing with pride, it was finally time for the man of the moment to say a few words. “I thank all of you who voted for me to receive this prize” said Mascherano. “We’ll try to continue doing things as well as we have until now, with the same dedication while trying to stay faithful to what a club like this demands, which is a lot.”

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