Rafa Nadal has been nominated for the Laureus Sportsman of the Year award, but has admitted the accolade should go to football icon Lionel Messi. Nadal was once again named as a nominee for the Laureus Sportsman of the Year alongside World Cup winner Messi, NBA star Steph Curry, F1 champ Max Verstappen and pole vault record holder Mondo Duplantis.
Nadal has been nominated for the award seven times throughout his glittering career and won it twice. He has also won the 'Comeback of the Year' award and the 'Breakthrough of the Year' title way back in 2006.
And the 36-year-old has once again been nominated after winning the Australian Open and Roland Garros last year. Nadal said he was honoured to be once again nominated for the prestigious award after becoming the first male player ever to reach 22 grand slam titles.
However, in a touching gesture, Nadal turned the spotlight on Argentinian forward Messi. The football icon captained the football-mad nation to the World Cup trophy in Qatar and played some of his best ever football for his country.
In many sports fans eyes, Messi's World Cup win and his unprecedented performances cemented his position as the greatest footballer of all time. And Nadal was clearly enamoured after the scenes in Qatar and and called for Messi to take home the award after helping galvanise a nation.
"An honour to be nominated again for the Laureus Sportsman of the Year. But this year...let's go Leo Messi. You deserve it," he wrote on Instagram. Nadal is a huge football fan and famously attends many Real Madrid games in Spain, which included a Champions League clash last year in Paris during Roland Garros.
The tennis world was quick to praise Nadal for yet another nomination for the prestigious award. His gesture towards Messi also didn't go unnoticed from fans.
"An honor to be nominated again for Sportsman of the Year by The Laureus...but...this year...
Come on Leo Messi, you deserve it." pic.twitter.com/xg3g2JUK4H
— MC (@CrewsMat10) February 20, 2023
Rafael Nadal wants Leo Messi to beat him and win the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year award. Fair enough. pic.twitter.com/oN2tweTr73
— Yasmin Syed (@yasminstefsyed) February 20, 2023
Nadal believes Messi should win the Laureus Sportsman of the Year Award 👏🤝 pic.twitter.com/iGvAAX4pOY
— Luigi Gatto (@gigicat7_) February 20, 2023
That's why Nadal is the GOAT
— Newcastle United 🇦🇷 (@FCNewcastleFan) February 20, 2023
Tennis with a big presence at the Laureus Awards nominations as always.
Sportswoman of the Year: Iga Swiatek (will most likely win)
Sportsman of the Year: Rafael Nadal
Breaktrough of the Year: Carlos Alcaraz (will most likely win) and Elena Rybakina
— José Morgado (@josemorgado) February 20, 2023
Messi sent Argentina into unprecedented celebrations after winning the nation's third World Cup. Messi won the golden ball for player of the tournament to cap off a historic campaign.
The former Barcelona icon has been nominated for the Laureus Sportsman of the Year award seven times and has one just once in 2020.
Nadal won both the Australian Open and Roland Garros last year. However, the Spaniard suffered an injury at this year's Aus Open as he was knocked out in his title defence. He is expected to miss up to 6-8 weeks with the hip injury.
Iga Swiatek and Carlos Alcaraz nominated for awards
Nadal wasn't the only tennis star to be nominated for the award. Iga Swiatek enjoyed a dominant year at World No.1 as she won Roland Garros and the US Open. She was nominated for Sportswoman of the Year.
Spanish teen sensation Carlos Alcaraz was also nomianted for Breakthrough of the Year. Nadal won the award in 2006 and his countryman could be set to win the title after reaching World No.1 and winning the US Open all at the age of 19.
The 19-year-old sensation missed the Australian Open this year after withdrawing due to an ongoing leg injury from the end of 2022.
However, after four months on the sideline he returned to Buenos Aires last week at the Argentina Open. And after relinquishing the World No.1 ranking to Novak Djokovic, Alcaraz made a statement in his return after winning his seventh ATP title having only dropped one set on his way to the trophy.
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