Cristiano Ronaldo Honored with Grand Officer of the Order of Prince Henry Award

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistJanuary 20, 2014

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Cristiano Ronaldo has yet another accolade to add to his growing collection after being named Grand Officer of the Order of Prince Henry on Monday, Jan. 20.   

The Real Madrid superstar took to his personal Twitter account to express his gratitude at receiving one of Portugal's highest individual honours:

The Order of Prince Henry is a Portuguese form of knighthood, with Grand Officer being the third-most-senior rank of the title, behind the Grand Cross and Grand Collar.

It was confirmed on the official Real Madrid website that the president of the Republic of Portugal, Cavaco Silva, would bestow the honour upon Ronaldo this week.

Armando Franca/Associated Press

The story also states the following as reason behind the athlete's naming as Grand Officer:

[It's] the president's decision, which seeks to honour an internationally renowned athlete who is a symbol of Portugal throughout the world, contributing to the country's international profile and offering an example of tenacity to younger generations.

Prince Henry, known as Henrique in Portugal, is also referred to as "Henrique the Navigator," with this award also handed out in relation to the expansion of Portuguese culture, which Ronaldo has certainly helped promote over the last decade.

Armando Franca/Associated Press

This latest reward comes exactly a week after the 28-year-old beat Lionel Messi and Franck Ribery to the 2013 Ballon d'Or award, in recognition of his individual brilliance for both club and country during the last 12 months.

OptaFranz shows some of the reasoning behind why Ronaldo broke Messi's four-year hold on the title:

Among that brilliance was Ronaldo's inspirational leading of the Portuguese national team throughout their qualification run for the 2014 World Cup.

Their place at the Brazilian tournament was sealed thanks mostly to Ronaldo's feats in the two-legged UEFA playoff against Sweden, including a hat-trick display in the second outing that clinched a 4-2 victory for the Portuguese on aggregate.

Those international contributions will have only solidified Ronaldo's candidacy for awards such as this knighthood, but the forward's quality at club level down the years may have been enough in itself to warrant such esteemed recognition.

Los Merengues' star already boasted the honour of Officer of the Order of Prince Henry, but has moved another two rungs up the ladder thanks to his exploits in the years since that initial title was given to him.

According to Marca, Ronaldo joins the likes of Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, Brazil boss Luiz Felipe Scolari and Microsoft founder Bill Gates in some very respectable company also to have been given the honour.