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Moments of pride and honour are coming thick and fast for FC Barcelona's Gerard Piqué.
Following a year of further successes with club and country, the central defender and his partner Shakira are due to become parents in the middle of January and the newborn child will immediately become a 'socio' – or member of Barcelona. Shortly after he himself was born on 2 February 1987, Piqué was given 'socio' status, and this week, with Shakira by his side, he was awarded a silver insignia for his 25 years of membership.
"I'm very proud – apart from the fact I didn't take the decision to become a 'socio', because I was only a few days old, but it's true that my grandfather and then my parents made me aware of what it means to be a fan, how to be a Barcelonista, and I'm very proud of that," Piqué said.
"It was my grandfather's idea. He was on the board of directors of Barcelona, and from the beginning he wanted to make me a Barcelonista. I have to thank him because now I'm celebrating my 25th anniversary because of him."
Barça vice-president Jordi Cardoner bestowed upon the player's grandfather Amador Bernabéu the honour of presenting Piqué with the insignia. The veteran culé was also thanked for giving Piqué the opportunity to understand the values of the club and to grow with them. Emotional during the ceremony, Bernabéu has seen his grandson develop from boy to man. Piqué believes his own preparations for fatherhood, and his relationship with Shakira, help his growing maturity both on and off the field.
"I believe love changes you," Piqué said. "It's a very important part of your life. And when you have it, you see things in a different way than you might have done before. When you're single, you concentrate very much on football and your friends. Now it's about your partner, and there's a baby coming too; so things change and you have to adapt. But I think everything that's happening to me now is beautiful
One of 683 Blaugrana members to receive the award at ceremonies in December, you can read more from Piqué in the next edition of Champions Matchday, available from 16 January in digital versions on Apple Newsstand or Zinio, as well as in print. You can follow the magazine on Twitter @ChampionsMag.
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