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Football: Casillas, Xavi, win top Spanish award

Published on Sep 5, 2012 10:37 PM

MADRID, Spain (AFP) - Childhood friends now playing for arch foes, Real Madrid's Iker Casillas and Barcelona's Xavi Hernandez won a top Spanish award on Wednesday for rising above team rivalry. Casillas, 31-year-old goalkeeper for Real Madrid and Spain, and Xavi, the 32-year-old Barcelona midfielder, were awarded the prestigious Prince of Asturias 2012 prize for sports.

The jury, meeting in Oviedo, northern Spain, said the pair "symbolise the values of friendship and comradeship beyond the great rivalry of their respective teams." Casillas and Xavi have been friends since their footballing youth, and they are often credited for helping to anchor the national side, which features a large bloc of Barcelona and Real Madrid players.

"It's a recognition of our work, of a generation of footballers, of a friendship we have had for 15 years in the Spanish team, whether in the youth or the first team," Xavi told reporters in Madrid where the Spain team are training. "We have had a relationship for a long time," Casillas said. 

"Maybe it is our turn to be here and visible but there are also many players behind us who in their day knew how to iron out things that happened," he said. "In the end it is the work of a group who have been together a long time," Casillas added.

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