When he is not captivating the fans with his exploits on the tennis court, Rafael Nadal spends his time being captivated by the beautiful game of football. In particular, by his favorite club Real Madrid.
The 19-time Grand Slam champion has shown his love for Real Madrid several times in the past. He has been spotted watching their matches at the Santiago Bernabeu, and even hanging out in the locker room with the players from the team.
And now that outspoken loyalty to Real Madrid has earned Nadal a playful rebuke from Luis Enrique, who currently coaches the Spanish national football team and was previously the manager of FC Barcelona.
Enrique was a guest on the basketball show Colgados del Aro, where he spoke on a wide range of topics. During the conversation he also revealed his admiration for Rafael Nadal, and shared an interesting anecdote about the King of Clay.
The only thing that Enrique holds against Rafa is his unflinching love for Real Madrid, who are Barcelona's biggest enemies in the football world. The El Clásico pair share a very heated and intense rivalry that goes back decades.
"Rafa Nadal is at a (very high) level," Enrique said. "Too bad he is from Madrid, damn."
Rafael Nadal the Real Madrid fan
In addition to being a Real Madrid fan, Rafael Nadal is quite the skilled football player himself. In fact, the 12-time French Open champion was obsessed with the sport right from his childhood, but eventually chose tennis as a career.
Rafael Nadal's love for football is such that he even spent some precious moments with the Spanish national team after they won the FIFA World Cup in 2010.
All these things are probably why the ex-Barcelona manager made special mention of Rafael Nadal during the chat. The 50-year-old Enrique said he considers the left-hander "the ideal of what a sportsman should be".
"The truth is that you cannot be better (than Nadal) in terms of knowing how to lose," Enrique said. "All the big winners have always been defined by winning many things, but when defeat comes you see a face of frustration - which is not the case with him. It is impossible to not love Rafa Nadal."
Rafael Nadal's greatness was predicted by his uncle Miguel: Luis Enrique
For Rafael Nadal, football runs in the family. His uncle Miguel Angel Nadal used to play for the Spanish national team as well as for Barcelona FC. Enrique mentioned in the interview how Miguel, during their days together at Barca, had once predicted the greatness of his nephew when he was just a kid.
"When we were at Barca, one day a super correct guy arrived, in the style of the Nadal family, and he told us: 'You know that my nephew plays tennis very well, he will be very good, champion of Spain already.' And (I asked him), 'What does that mean, will he be number one in Spain?' And he said, 'Yes and more.'
"Of course, later when we saw him burning through the tour… ," Enrique trailed off, reminiscing how Miguel's prediction came devastatingly true.
The 50-year-old also spoke about Rafael Nadal's prowess as a footballer.
"In a match we played in Manacor between the team and Miguel Angel Nadal's teammates, Rafa was in his team, and he scored a volley goal that shook us. We said, 'If Rafa could have been a footballer..."