In the presentation on Wednesday afternoon, Bavarian Minister-President Marcus Söder praised Neuer as a “human role model”, who has impressed with “human courage” and a “clear message for tolerance and against exclusion.” In his address, Söder further spoke to Neuer, saying, “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.”
Manuel Neuer has called Bavaria his second home since his transfer to FC Bayern in the Summer of 2011 from Schalke. Neuer spoke about representing Bavaria, “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.”
Neuer is a native of North Rhine-Westphalia. His home-state also awarded Neuer their Order of Merit in 2019. Other FC Bayern players have been awarded the Bavarian Order of Merit. Bastian Schweinsteiger was honored in 2018 and Thomas Müller was honored in 2019. It is noteworthy that Neuer is both the first non-Bavarian player to be bestowed this honor, as well as the first goalkeeper.
The Bavarian Order of Merit is often considered the most exclusive award in the Free State of Bayern. It 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.” According to the ordinance, there can only be 2000 living medal holders at one time.
Note: Bavaria is the English translation of Bayern. Located in southeastern Germany, Bavaria is the largest state in Germany by area and second largest by population.