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Casillas and Xavi to receive award

Real Madrid captain Iker Casillas and Barcelona midfielder Xavi Hernandez are to jointly receive Spain's prestigious Principe de Asturias Award on Friday, in recognition of their contribution in bringing harmony and success to Spain's national football team.

The prize, presented by the heir to Spain's throne, honours achievement in sporting, cultural, scientific and other realms, and is chosen by an appointed jury, headed this year by former tennis player Arantxa Sanchez Vicario.

Casillas, 31, says he is delighted to be receiving the award alongside Xavi, whom he has played alongside at international level since the Under-20 World Cup in Nigeria in 1999.

"I think that Xavi and I receive this award as a reflection of our maturity and careers in which we have achieved great things both personally and as team-mates," he told Madrid's official website. "It is a little bit of everything coming together. I am grateful that in this case an agreement was reached on two important players in the past decade of Spanish football, who represent two great clubs, Barcelona and Real Madrid, and the Spanish national team.

"I am grateful to the people who voted and who decided on this joint candidacy for the Prince of Asturias Award."

The winners were announced last month, with Xavi, 32, saying at the time that he and Casillas had put aside club rivalries as Spain claimed the Euro 2008, World Cup 2010 and Euro 2012 trophies.

"This is an immense personal satisfaction and joy," Xavi said. "We are proud to represent this national team. But also it is a prize for our generation. We want to keep making history from here. At some moments there was tension, but friendship comes ahead of everything."

Both players were expected to train with their clubs on Friday morning before flying to Oviedo by private plane to collect their awards.

Casillas is to be accompanied by his partner, Sara Carbonero, and Madrid's director of external relations, Emilio Butragueno, while Xavi's parents and Barca president Sandro Rosell are also expected to attend the ceremony, which will be broadcast live on Spanish TV.

Previous winners of the award include tennis player Rafael Nadal, racing driver Michael Schumacher, the Spanish and Brazilian football teams and disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong. Spanish architect Rafael Moneo and American philosopher Martha C. Nussbaum are among those who are also honoured this year.

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