"To those who presented Rafael Nadal as a hard worker without much talent, he would have had 10 Golden Balls if he played football" - Gilles Simon

Rafael Nadal and Gilles Simon (inset)
Rafael Nadal and Gilles Simon (inset)

Rafael Nadal has earned high praise from Gilles Simon for the remarkable extent of his sporting abilities. Beyond his tennis prowess, the Spaniard is known to be quite skilled at football and golf as well.

Following his fourth-round exit from the Madrid Open, Nadal headed to Rome for the Italian Open, where he has been diligently preparing for his campaign at the Masters 1000 event.

In one of his recent practice sessions, the Spaniard wowed the packed crowd by showcasing his impressive football skills, passing tennis balls to his coach while displaying fancy footwork.

Gilles Simon reacted to a clip of the 37-year-old's football prowess on social media, calling out those who once doubted Rafael Nadal's talent.

He hailed the former World No. 1 as a "gifted" athlete, contending that he would've won the prestigious Ballon d'Or award on 10 occasions if he were a professional football player. It's worth mentioning that Lionel Messi, who holds the record for most Ballon d'Or awards, has won it eight times.

Simon also suggested that the 37-year-old would've won 15 Majors if he played golf professionally, pointing to the Spaniard's tally of 22 Grand Slam titles as evidence of his remarkable talent.

"A little thought to all those who presented him to us as a hard worker without much talent in his early years, when he is a gifted person who would have had 10 Golden Balls if he had played football, 15 Major if he had played golf, and therefore 22 GC playing tennis," he posted on x (formerly Twitter).

Rafael Nadal's passion for football is well known, especially his support for Real Madrid and his home team, RCD Mallorca. Before his Madrid Open campaign, he enthusiastically cheered Real Madrid on their victory over Barcelona in the blockbuster El Clasico clash.

The Spaniard's golf ability is also notable, as he triumphed at the 2024 edition of the Balearic Amateur men's championships in February.

Rafael Nadal: "I am a competitive person, but not just in tennis, it cost me not being able to play golf"

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal had to sit out almost the entirety of the 2023 season due to a hip injury.

The Spaniard revealed that what he missed most during his hiatus was being able to indulge his fierce competitive spirit, lamenting his inability to play golf during his recovery.

"Competition! Ultimately I am a competitive person, but not just in tennis, it cost me not being able to play golf which after all is a way to compete, it cost me not being able to compete in other areas," he said during a business conference in Madrid.

On the tennis front, the 22-time Grand Slam champion shared that he misses the electrifying feeling of competing in packed stadiums at the best tournaments.

"In tennis, I missed being on the circuit, being able to compete, feeling like a player, going out on the best courts with a full stadium; of course, I miss it, but you have to deal with it," he added.

Nadal will have the opportunity to relish that feeling at the 2024 Italian Open, as he takes on Zizou Bergs in his opening match.

What is the foot injury that has troubled Rafael Nadal over the years? Check here

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Edited by Urvi Mehra
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