England duo Jordan Henderson and Raheem Sterling will both receive MBEs in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
The pair have emerged as two of the country’s shining role models in recent years. Henderson will be rewarded for services to football and charity, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic, while Sterling will be honoured for services to racial equality in sport.
They will join England teammates Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford as the only active Three Lions players with MBEs.
Henderson was typically humble when discussing the honour, dedicating his MBE the NHS.
“My family and I feel greatly humbled to be recognised in this way, more so given the reason for it,” Henderson said. “There are many privileges that come from playing professional football, but having a platform to promote a charitable cause such as Players Together and NHS Charities Together is as big a privilege as any.
“It’s important for me to state that although the honour has been issued to me personally, the credit must be shared to a far larger group of people and I accept this in the knowledge I was part of something special, rather than the reason for it.
“The other Premier League captains were the catalyst and the rest of the players, including my own teammates at Liverpool, were a driving force behind the scenes. Huge numbers of football fans, from across the country, also displayed great generosity in donating. But the true heroes are the NHS staff; they put themselves in harm’s way to serve and protect us.
“Therefore I dedicate this to all the nurses, doctors, carers, porters, admin workers, cleaners, security personnel and every single individual who devotes their career and their lives to making the NHS the part of British life we are rightly most proud of as a nation.”
Sterling too was typically proud to receive the honour, but said the goal of achieving racial equality is still yet to be reached.
“Receiving this honour is a fantastic feeling and a proud moment – not just for myself but for my family and friends,” Sterling said.
“I am grateful to have been recognised but my priority is to try to help to educate society and myself. If it doesn’t start from within, then there’s no way you can help others. I’m learning every day. My motivation for racial equality is to get people to understand the difficulties people from diverse backgrounds face and create an environment where everybody is equal.
“I feel we are starting to make a step in the right direction, but we still have a lot of work to do. There are still a lot of things we can get better at as a society such as social media with people taking more accountability. I think that is a major factor in achieving the ultimate goal of racial equality. We also need to support young people and give them opportunities to show what they are capable of achieving.
“I’ve launched a foundation for underprivileged kids from deprived backgrounds. It’s something that I’m really excited to work on because I can relate to it and I will give 100 per cent. If I can help to change one or two lives then I’ve done a massive thing there. If you want to make change then it has to start from yourself.”