Ecuador's World Cup squad were awarded medals by the country's government on Monday for their performance in Germany where the team reached the second round of the tournament for the first time.
"You have given us a great lesson," President Alfredo Palacio told the players during a ceremony inside the government palace. "Ecuador needs that sense of team spirit."
Ecuador defeated Costa Rica and Poland to advance to the World Cup second round, sparking massive celebrations in a country deeply divided by political instability and poverty.
The team were knocked out by a 1-0 defeat to England but were welcomed home last week as heroes by thousands of cheering fans clad in the squad's yellow jerseys.
Sitting to the left of the president, team captain Ivan Hurtado said: "Through soccer the whole world knows a united Ecuador...and the future of the country is the only match we can't lose."