Spanish stars Iker Casillas, the Real Madrid goalie, and Barca midfielder Xavi Hernandez were named sports category winners of the Prince of Asturias award Wednesday, an annual prize given to athletes who make notable achievements.
"This is a recognition for a generation of (Spanish) soccer players," Barcelona captain Hernandez told Marca. "The award is recognition for our work, for a whole generation of players and their friendship. For the past 15 years we have been playing together on the (Spanish) national team, from the youth leagues to the absolute selection. It gives us tremendous happiness."
Hernandez admitted that during tense moments in international play after confrontations between Real Madrid and Barcelona, Casillas has been a calming force on the Spanish team.
"We always keep in touch because we have a long friendship," said Hernandez. "There has been tension in the past, but friendship above all else."
Previous Asturias award winners include Haile Gebrselassi, Rafael Nadal, Michael Schumacher and Lance Armstrong.