Ecuador President Lenin Moreno presented Manchester United stalwart Antonio Valencia with the prestigious National Order of Merit medal in recognition of his decade playing for the Premier League giants.
“I’ve ended a wonderful period in Manchester, but now there’s a difficult match ahead and I hope to play well, which is being a good father, and this is a commitment to my country’s children and youth,” said Valencia, who bowed out of Old Trafford on Sunday following 25 goals in 339 appearances since joining from Wigan Athletic in 2009.
“Mr president, I hope God rewards you for this acknowledgement.”
Valencia, 33, presented Moreno with the shirt he wore on Sunday in his final game, in the ceremony at the presidential Carondelet Palace in Quito.
Moreno praised the “beloved” Valencia for representing his country with dignity and valor “both on and off the pitch.”
He highlighted Valencia’s greatest achievements, including becoming the first Ecuadoran to play in a Champions League final, in 2011, and the first to lift the Europa League, in 2017.