Southampton and Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis spoke of his delight after receiving his MBE at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday.
Davis was presented with his medal by the Duke of Cambridge, who is president of the Football Association.
The 32-year-old, from Cullybackey in County Antrim, said it was an "honour that I will cherish" to be made an MBE at such a point in his career.
"I think to get it in any given field is huge," Davis said.
"To still be playing as well, it is unbelievable. It is nothing I ever expected, to be honest."
Speaking ahead of the two-legged tie against Switzerland in November that will determine if Northern Ireland reach the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Davis added: "It is going to be a difficult game but there is a lot of belief within the squad.
"It is two games for us to get to the World Cup so we will be giving it our all."
Davis said the proudest moment of his career so far had been playing in the Euro 2016 tournament in France.