Watch: Rafael Nadal's stunning reply to fan's 'Messi vs Ronaldo' query during holiday in Greece
Nadal is on vacation in Greece, and was taking pictures with some young fans when he was asked about the Messi vs Ronaldo debate.
The 'GOAT' debate in football has been raging on for several years, and although its main protagonists have entered the last phases of their shining careers, all sports fans, particularly fans of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi themselves, continue to have their own opinion on the matter.
The same, of course, can be said for men’s tennis, where Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, and Roger Federer have been the central figures for the ATP tour for two decades, battling it out at the top of the rankings and Grand Slam counts and attempting to outdo their rivals at every step.
Nadal in particular is a devoted football fan, and this knowledge led to some fans taking the opportunity to ask him the eternal question about football. The Spaniard is on vacation in Greece, and was taking pictures with some young fans when he was asked a question by the pair: “Messi or Ronaldo?”
'Messi is better but…'
His response was captured and posted in a video on TikTok, where the Spaniard gives his verdict on the debate, and states “Messi is better, but I am a Madrid fan!”. Nadal is a hero in Spain, where both Messi and Ronaldo spent the vast majority of their careers excelling in the La Liga for Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively. Nadal has been a fan of the Madrid-based team since his boyhood, with Los Blancos being his family’s team.
Famously, Rafa’s uncle Miguel Angel Nadal was a player for Barcelona, having spent a period in the late 1990s as a consistent starter for Johan Cruyff’s ‘Dream Team’. Called the ‘Beast of Barcelona’, Miguel Angel received 62 Spanish caps and represented Barca over 200 times, sandwiched between spells at his hometown club of UCD Mallorca, which is where the Nadal family hails from.
The Spanish star has spoken in the past about how his Madrid-favouring family nonetheless supported his uncle’s career in Barcelona. While Rafa chose tennis, his other uncle Toni’s sport of choice, he is reported to have been a precociously talented footballer in his youth as well.
Rafa’s paths have often crossed with the sport elsewhere: he is a stakeholder in his hometown club Mallorca, and was famously present in the locker room as Spain celebrated their first-ever World Cup victory in 2010.
Nadal is universally loved in both Barcelona and Madrid: the main court at the Barcelona Open was renamed this Pista Rafa Nadal in honour of the 12-time champion of the event, while he is also a 5-time champion at the prestigious Mutua Madrid Masters 1000 tournament. He is also an honorary club member at Real Madrid.
The Spaniard also shares an immense sense of mutual respect for his footballing counterparts. Nadal appeared alongside Ronaldo in a famous viral advertisement for Nike, where the duo played a game of tennis for the sports manufacturing giants. Earlier this year, Nadal had also backed Messi to win the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year award, despite being nominated himself, earning a deeply heartfelt message of thanks from the Argentine.
Nadal is currently rehabilitating from a hip surgery, and expects to return for a farewell year on tour in 2024. Meanwhile, Messi announced himself with an injury-time freekick for his new club Inter Miami on debut while Ronaldo undergoes preseason preparation for a fresh season with Al Nassr in Saudi Arabia.