Raheem Sterling and Liverpool's Jordan Henderson joined celebrities Prue Leith and Arlene Phillips in being recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours List.
Manchester City forward Sterling, 26, is being made an MBE for his work promoting racial equality in sport.
He has been abused online during his career for both club and country, as well as from fans, for his stance.
Regarding his honour, he described it as a "fantastic feeling and a proud moment - not just for myself but for my family and friends".
"I am grateful to have been recognised but my priority is to try to help to educate society and myself. If it doesn't start from within, then there's no way you can help others. I'm learning every day."
Others recognised in the list include the scientists and officials who led the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the development and rollout of the vaccines.
Liverpool captain Henderson, 30, was recognised with an MBE for services to football and charity, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But he said NHS staff were the "true heroes" of the crisis, adding: "There are many privileges that come from playing professional football, but having a platform to promote a charitable cause such as Players Together and NHS Charities Together is as big a privilege as any.
"I dedicate this to all the nurses, doctors, carers, porters, admin workers, cleaners, security personnel and every single individual who devotes their career and their lives to making the NHS the part of British life we are rightly most proud of as a nation."
Prue Leith, Jonathan Pryce and Arlene Phillips are among the celebs recognised in the honours list.
Bake Off judge and restaurateur Leith, 81, will be made a dame for services to food, broadcasting and charity, while Game Of Thrones actor Jonathan Pryce will be knighted for his services to drama and charity.
Speaking to Sky News, Leith said that being a dame sounds "strange" - but it's something she can get used to.
She added: "The only person I told was my husband, and he was so thrilled, and so delighted and he kept reminding me about it... I sort of almost didn't believe it.
"When you get the letter it's rather sort of conditional, it says something like, 'Her Majesty is minded to confirm' - she's got it in her head so she might change her mind was the sort of inference.
"I suppose what it means is keep your nose clean, and as long as you don't do anything monstrous between now and the announcement it will be alright. So I have been taking a lot of trouble not to do anything monstrous."
Choreographer Arlene Phillips, best known for her judging stint on Strictly Come Dancing, will also be made a dame, for services for dance and charity.
Also being bestowed with top honours is pianist Imogen Cooper, who gets the nod for her services to music.
She says she is "vastly honoured and more than a little surprised" to be made a dame, less than a year after being handed The Queen's Medal For Music.
Cooper added: "I was completely stunned. I'm sure everybody says this, but it's quite genuine. I really was not expecting it in any way. And it was a wonderful surprise.
"I'll have to get used to it. I did write it down immediately to see what it looked like and then nearly fainted."
Elsewhere from the world of music, 80s pop icon Alison Moyet and crooner Engelbert Humperdinck will be made MBEs - both for services to music.
Humperdinck's wife, Patricia, died in February after contracting COVID-19, and he said that he wishes he could share the accolade with her.
Scottish pop powerhouse Lulu will be made a CBE, as will Yes keyboard player Rick Wakeman, who said he is "stunned and genuinely very proud" to be given the same nod.
Artist and The Hare With Amber Eyes author Edmund de Waal has also been awarded a CBE for services to the arts, saying he is "very grateful that the things I have done over the last decades have been noticed".
Cellist Julian Lloyd-Webber will be made an OBE for services to music, as will poet and playwright Lemn Sissay, who gets is award for services to literature and charity.
Sissay said: "I'm chuffed to bits. If I could say to my 17-year-old self or my 25-year-old self, in 2021 you will receive an OBE, I just would not believe it."
Robert Rinder, best known for his courtroom reality show Judge Rinder, will also be recognised in the honours, getting an MBE for services to Holocaust education and awareness.
In a sweet turn of events, his mother Angela Cohen, the chairwoman of the '45 Aid Society, is also being handed the same award.
Rinder, who recently made a BBC show exploring the stories of Jewish families and often speaks in schools with holocaust survivors, said: "I have, just like everybody I love professionally and trust in my life, a kind of nuclear powered sense of imposter syndrome.
"I have to say it has been dialled up even more in receiving this honour which really means the world to me.
"As you probably know, it is made all the richer and frankly the more beautiful because my mum is getting one on the same day."