'It's a huge honour' - Muller follows Schweinsteiger in winning prestigious award

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Thomas Muller Bayern 2019-20
The Bayern Munich forward was granted the highly exclusive Bavarian Order of Merit, which was awarded by Minister President Markus Soder.

Bayern Munich forward Thomas Muller has been awarded the Bavarian Order of Merit, an accolade which he has described as "a huge honour".

Born in Weilheim in the south of the state, Muller joined Bayern's youth ranks in 2000 and has since won the Bundesliga eight times with the Bavarian giants. He has also won the Champions League and assorted domestic silverware, while he won the World Cup with Germany in 2014 having scored five goals at the tournament.

Muller was given the award by Minister President Markus Soder, who told him: "You are not only a great footballer, but also a guy you sometimes miss very much.

"At Bayern you are a true Bavarian among great players from all over the world. It is your great gift that you are so authentic. You are a great Bavarian ambassador."

The Bavarian Order of Merit is a highly exclusive accolade, with only 2,000 living medal holders allowed at any one time. Back in the summer of 2018, Muller's former Bayern teammate Bastian Schweinsteiger was also given the award.

"It's a huge honor, I did not expect it," said Muller. "I am very close to the Bavarian state and my home country.

"The Bavarians are a mixture of proud personalities and people who do not forget their neighbour and their humor. I try to remain the same Thomas Muller as I have been for the last 30 years."

Muller has 505 senior appearances for Bayern in total and has scored 188 goals for the club. He is currently the longest-serving player at the Allianz Arena by some distance.

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Bayern are currently fourth in the Bundesliga, four points behind league-leaders Borussia Monchengladbach who they play next weekend. Despite their shaky early season form, many still have them down as favourites to win an eighth consecutive league title.

Alongside Muller, multiple Paralympic gold medallist Anna Schaffelhuber was one of the other sportspeople recognised for her success.

"You are all great Bayern," Soder said. "Not only because of the many trophies you have won, but also because you are inspiring and because you are an example for others. They are very special personalities."