On Friday UEFA handed out the first of its commemorative caps and medals for players who have made 100 or more appearances for their national team.
UEFA this week announced the new award, which is being given to all players from UEFA's 53 member associations to have amassed a century of appearances for their country. The initiative was approved by the UEFA Executive Committee at its last meeting in Nyon in June. Currently 109 European players have reached the milestone.
The first presentations were made at Friday's international matches, with former Northern Ireland goalkeeper Pat Jennings among the recipients. "It was always an honour to play for Northern Ireland and the reception I received was very special," said Jennings, who was bestowed with his cap and medal prior to Northern Ireland's UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier against Serbia at Windsor Park.
"When I was a player I always looked forward to getting selected for the international team. Playing for Northern Ireland for over 22 years provided me with memories I will never forget." Irish Football Association (IFA) president Jim Shaw, who presented Jennings with his honour, added: "Pat is not only a Northern Ireland legend, he is also one of football's greats. The Irish FA congratulates him on this very special occasion."
Also honoured was the late József Bozsik, a midfielder for the great Hungary side of the 1950s, who died aged 52 in 1978. His son, former national coach Péter Bozsik, was present at the Ferenc Puskás Stadium in Budapest for Hungary's game against Sweden to accept the award on his father's behalf.
"It was an unexpected award but I can say that it brought special joy to the whole family," he said. "I am really glad that my father's name is still known all over Europe. I am also proud that he was the second to gain 101 caps in an era when Hungarian football was amongst the best in the entire world. I am thankful to UEFA for remembering my father and I acknowledge UEFA's very positive commitments to all parts of the game."
Further presentations will be made on Tuesday and in October in conjunction with either the respective national team's home fixture in UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying or the occasion of a friendly match. The full list of names is available on UEFA.com.
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