Queen's Honours: Awards for Rory Best, Jonathan Rea and Steven Davis

Rory Best led Ireland to a famous victory over New Zealand at Soldier Field, Chicago
Rory Best led Ireland to a famous victory over New Zealand at Soldier Field, Chicago

Three leading sporting stars from Northern Ireland have been recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours list.

They are Irish rugby captain Rory Best, World Superbikes champion Jonathan Rea, and Steven Davis, captain of the Northern Ireland football team.

Ulster's Best, 34, who won his 100th cap for his country last year, has been appointed an OBE for services to rugby.

Rea, 30, world title winner for the last two years, and Southampton player Davis, 32, become MBEs.

Craigavon-born Best, currently touring New Zealand with the British and Irish Lions, dedicated his OBE to the people who helped him carve out a distinguished international rugby career.

"To be recognised for contributing to a sport, for someone to feel I'm worthy of being nominated, and then to be deemed worthy, it's quite incredible," he said.

"My parents were obviously delighted. My mum and dad actually both have MBEs, my dad for agriculture and my mum for services to the public sector.

"So it was quite funny telling them I'd gone one better than them."

Best became the first Ulster player to win 100 caps for Ireland when Joe Schmidt's side edged out Australia 27-24 in Dublin last November.

The long-serving hooker also led Ireland to their first-ever win over New Zealand in 111 years of trying, with a 40-29 triumph in Chicago earlier that month.

Jonathan Rea won the World Superbike Championship in 2015 and 2016
Jonathan Rea won the World Superbike Championship in 2015 and 2016

Rea rules in World Superbikes

Jonathan Rea's honour follows his domination of the World Superbike Championship for more than two years.

The Kawasaki rider, from Ballyclare in County Antrim, won the title in 2015 and 2016, and currently leads the standings as he attempts to become the first rider to win the WSB championship three years in a row.

In May he extended his lead in the current series to 55 points by winning at Donington Park.

That was the Isle of Man-based racer's 46th career victory at World Superbike level and he is now on the verge of chalking up 100 podium finishes.

Davis Euro star with Northern Ireland

Steven Davis was Northern Ireland skipper at the Euro 2016 tournament in France
Steven Davis was Northern Ireland's skipper at the Euro 2016 tournament in France

Steven Davis from Cullybackey, County Antrim, has been recognised after helping Northern Ireland reach the Euro 2016 finals, their first major tournament since the 1986 World Cup.

The Southampton midfielder, whose previous clubs are Aston Villa, Fulham and Rangers, is on course to become the third Northern Ireland player to make 100 international appearances.

Goalkeeper Pat Jennings won 119 caps, defender Aaron Hughes in on 106 and Davis currently has 95.

Davis made his international debut in 2005 and famously provided the pass for David Healy to score the winner in a never-to-be-forgotten World Cup qualifier victory over England in Belfast the following year.

"It is a huge honour for me and my family," said Davis.

"I was shocked when I was told about it. I thought it was a joke at first.

"It was just something that had never registered with me, that I might receive something like this. Now, however, I think it's unbelievable.

"To get recognition like this when I am still playing is a massive thing."

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