Manuel Neuer awarded Bavarian Order of Merit
Honour where honour is due! Manuel Neuer was awarded the Bavarian Order of Merit by Minister-President Markus Söder on Wednesday afternoon for his services to the Free State of Bavaria beyond football. "With FC Bayern and our team, we have always represented Bavaria well. It makes me really proud to be part of this team and to be awarded this Bavarian Order of Merit," said the 35-year-old FCB captain, in his acceptance speech at the ceremony in the marble hall of the Prinz-Carl-Palais.
In his speech, Minister-President Söder praised the 2014 World Cup winner as a "human role model" who impressed with "moral courage" and a "clear message for tolerance and against exclusion". "You honour us Bavarians with your commitment," said Söder and, referring to the Germany goalkeeper's outstanding sporting achievements, added, "Today you will be awarded the Bavarian Champions League medal in white and blue for your services."
Neuer: Second home in Bavaria
Neuer joined the German record champions from FC Schalke 04 in the summer of 2011, and has since won two Champions League titles. In his address, he described himself as "a new Bavarian who has found his second home here, but never forgotten his roots". The world-class keeper was previously recognised for his social commitment with the Order of Merit of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia in autumn 2019. This means Neuer is now the first German goalkeeper to receive the award in two federal states, as Söder pointed out.
The Bavarian Order of Merit has been awarded since June 1957 "as a sign of honourable and grateful recognition for outstanding services to the Free State of Bavaria and the Bavarian people". It is considered the most exclusive award in the Free State, as according to the ordinance, there can only be 2,000 living medal holders at any one time. Bastian Schweinsteiger was honoured in the summer of 2018, and Neuer's teammate Thomas Müller received the order the following year.
Neuer had already been awarded the North Rhine-Westphalia Order of Merit in the autumn of 2019: