Madrid: Spain captain Iker Casillas and team mate Xavi have been jointly awarded the nation's most prestigious sports prize, the Premio Principe de Asturias de los Deportes, the jury announced on Wednesday.
Real Madrid goalkeeper Casillas, 31, and Barcelona playmaker Xavi, 32, have helped Spain to consecutive European Championship triumphs with a World Cup in between, the country's first, and were put forward for the award by FIFA president Sepp Blatter.
They have been friends since they competed together at the Under-20 World Cup in 1999 despite playing for bitter club rivals Real and Barca and the jury said that was one of the reasons they had been selected.
Their friendship had "helped resolve disputes between players of different clubs, promoting fair play and the philosophy of the team as the basis for sporting success," the jury wrote.
"It's true that there was tension at times but friendship comes before everything else," Xavi said on the sidelines of Spain's training camp in Madrid after learning of the award.