Wales, British Lion and three-time Grand Slam-winning rugby player Alun Wyn Jones has been given the freedom of his home city of Swansea.
The Wales and Ospreys player stepped up in front of his family, friends and councillors to receive his city’s highest honour, the first person to do so in the city’s 50th anniversary year.
Alun Wyn Jones captivated the world of rugby and his home nation after this year leading the country to its third Grand Slam and fourth Six Nations championship in a decade.
The accolade caps a remarkable few months for a rugby player who last month also helped see Ospreys through to qualification for next year’s elite European Champions Cup competition at the Liberty Stadium against the Scarlets.
Alun Wyn Jones joked: “This has been one of the more difficult days of my career – I’m used to appearing with 14 other guys on the pitch and using them to lean on!"
He said he was flattered to receive the honour and that to have the freedom was very special.
He was conscious of the significant support he has received throughout his career from his family and rugby community.
He said: “I give heartfelt thanks from me and my family.”
Rob Stewart, Leader of the Council, praised Alun Wyn Jones for his leadership on the rugby field and for his support for his home city.
Revealing that Alun Wyn Homes has been helping the Council attract the Skyline cable car attraction to Wales, Cllr Stewart said: "He has done a lot of work behind the scenes for our city, helping attract Skyline, the New Zealand company which is looking at a new site on Kilvey Hill. Alun Wyn Jones; thank you for the work you have been doing for the city."
He added: “This honour is richly-deserved not just for the skill he shows on the pitch in every game he plays. This honour is in recognition of Alun Wyn Jones leadership and the example he sets to the rest of us.
Alun Wyn Jones is Wales’ second most-capped Welsh player on 125 caps, behind Gethin Jenkins on 129. He captained the British Lions in the historic tour-winning test against Australia in 2013. He was also in the side that secured the famous drawn series against New Zealand in 2017.
The Freedom of the City of Swansea was awarded to Chris Coleman in 2016 for managing the Wales football team to the semi-final of the European Championships. John Charles, star of the 1958 World Cup team, was awarded the accolade in 2002. Fellow footballer Mel Nurse, who also played for Swansea and Wales and helped rescue the club from financial oblivion, was made a freeman of the city in 2016.
Others to have been granted the honour over the years include former US President Jimmy Carter, the late Lord Callaghan, HMS Scott, Dr Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury and, most recently, the world-renowned conductor and composer Sir Karl Jenkins.