While tennis has given a lot of success to Rafael Nadal, it has also benefited greatly from the Spaniard. The likes of Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic have taken the sport to heights that had never been reached before.
In that sense tennis can consider itself lucky that Rafael Nadal decided to pursue it as a career, because at one point he was close to picking football instead.
This revelation was made by Rafael Nadal’s uncle and former coach, Toni Nadal during a recent conversation with Infobae. The senior Nadal explained how his nephew always had the qualities required to excel at football.
Toni Nadal also gave his views on Novak Djokovic’s controversial rebel player association, the PTPA. The 59-year-old believes the Serb’s move was selfish, and he also drew parallels between that and Lionel Messi’s relationship with FC Barcelona.
Rafael Nadal was the top scorer of his team: Toni
Rafael Nadal comes from a family that has a strong affinity towards football. One of his uncles - Miguel Angel Nadal - even played for Barcelona, which left the family in a state of perpetual confusion about their loyalties in the sport.
As is well known, Rafael Nadal's favorite club is Real Madrid. And Uncle Toni believes that he made the right decision with respect to his fan allegiance.
“He had the uncle who played for Blaugrana and the family was divided between the Catalans and the Madridistas. I think he chose well,” Toni said.
Considering his love for football, it is natural to expect that Rafael Nadal played it with gusto in his youth. Toni Nadal revealed that his nephew actually had great attacking instincts in the sport, and that he operated as a center-forward back in the day.
“When he played football he did it very well. He was an interior that reached the position of center forward,” Toni added. “He even became the top scorer of his team (Olympique)! He did not have the characteristics of the traditional 9-zone to wait for the ball and convert, but he moved around the front of the attack starting from the left zone, due to his left-handedness.”
Toni Nadal once again speaks out against Novak Djokovic’s PTPA
Rafael Nadal and his uncle have both spoken out against the PTPA right since the day the proposal was laid out by Novak Djokovic. Toni Nadal has once again voiced his opinion against the breakaway player association; he continues to believe that the time isn’t right for such an expansive but ultimately 'selfish' pursuit.
Rafael Nadal’s uncle also pointed out that much like the players, the tournaments need safeguarding as well.
“We believe that this is not the time to raise a situation like this," Toni continued. "I think that the organizers of the competitions are going to lose a lot of money if they do not have the presence of several players and we understand that it is not the time for everyone to do what they want.”
Uncle Toni then compared the situation of the Novak Djokovic-led PTPA with that of Lionel Messi and Barcelona. He reiterated that athletes must not be selfish, and that they need to think about the club/institution that has helped them achieve the success that they have.
“I think athletes are sometimes selfish,” Uncle Toni continued. “You think about what each one generates, but sometimes you forget that there is someone behind you who is betting your money so that you can be more productive. Something similar was experienced in Barcelona with Messi and also at Real Madrid. If Messi had left Barcelona he would not have won anything; and both he and the club would have lost a lot.”Published 24 Sep 2020, 14:55 IST