SFS bi-monthly collaborator Adrian Vogel gives us today this post on
Spanish Sportsman & Tennis player RAFAEL NADAL & raises the
Is Rafael Nadal Spain´s Greatest Sportsman?

Adrian Vogel has his on blog in Spanish "
El Mundano"


Rafa Nadal by Adrian Vogel

Is Rafa Nadal Spain’s best sportsman ever? I have no doubt about it. I
was just waiting for him to win the Australian Open to confirm my

Before the semi-final against Verdasco I told Striker that my next entry
for SFS would be about Nadal. But only if Rafa won against the great
Roger Federer in the (dream) final. Which he did, being the first Spaniard
to do so down under (after six losses by previous Spaniards: Andrés
Gimeno, Manolo Santana, Carlos Moyá, Conchita Martínez and
Arantxa Sánchez Vicario twice).

But what came as a surprise was when Jaime Lissavetzky mentioned it,
creating a national debate. Mr. Lissavetzky is the highest government
sport authority in Spain. He holds the position of President of the Sports
National Council (or in other words the unnamed Minister of Sports).
I sincerely feel that his remark were quite inappropriate for somebody
of his position. It’s OK for us to discuss about it either at bars or public
tribunes such as newspapers or the Internet. In fact many media
organizations carried polls which showed how Rafa Nadal has captured
our hearts. But for a high ranked official this issue should be out of the
question. And if you consider that the law that rules Spanish sports (known
as the 1.006 decree) doesn’t consider tennis players as sportsmen, the
situation becomes an embarrassment for the head of the government

I imagine you readers trying to figure out why our law is so peculiar.
The reason being is the professional nature of the players: they are
entrepreneurs who don’t belong to a sports club. Therefore there are no
regulations or rules that apply to their activity since they hire their own
staff, arrange their sponsor deals, schedule the tournaments they play, etc.
Their only “non pro” commitments are the Davis Cup and the association
to their local federation (which reports to the national one that falls under
the umbrella that Lissavetzy runs). And in fact the ATP is the body that
rules the tennis world.

When I mentioned my statement to Striker I had a couple of exclusions
in mind. One was referred to the so called “motor sports”, which I
consider great racing competitions but not sports, in a traditional sense.
This means that champs such as Ángel Nieto (13 world titles), Carlos
Sainz (2) and Fernando Alonso (2) would be left out. And the other is
that’s extremely difficult to compare team players with individual ones.
But taking into account Nadal’s merits I could easily forget Luis Suarez,
Paco Gento or Manuel Estiarte. Three top team performers.

Luis Suarez is the only Spanish born football player to win the "Ballon d'Or"
trophy (European Footballer of the Year), in 1960. He was the runner-up
in 1961 and 1964. And in 1965 he came in third. With Spain he won the
Eurocup title in 1964 and played in 2 World Cups (Chile 1962 and England
1966). Alfredo Di Stefano called him “the architect”. With Barcelona he
won 2 Ligas, 2 Cups and 2 UEFA (Copa de Ferias/ Fairs Cup was the
original name of this UEFA Cup predecessor). While at Inter he conquered
2 Champions, 2 Intercontinentals and 3 Leagues.

Paco Gento, “the Cantabrian gale” -considered to be the best 11 ever-
is the only man to have won 6 Champions (Real Madrid) out of 8 finals.
Di Stefano’s record is 5 out of 7. He was also part of Spain’s 1964
Eurocup victory, even though he didn’t play the last two games. As Suarez
he played in the 1962 and 1966 World Cups. Besides his Champions titles
Paco Gento, with Real Madrid from 1953 to 1972, also achieved 1
Intercontinental, 12 Ligas and 2 Cups.

Manuel Estiarte also known as the “Maradona of the water” is probably
the best waterpolo player ever. Elected 7 times as the best world player
(1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991 y 1992). At the age of 19 he debuted
at the Olympic Games (Moscow 1980). This was his first Olympic scoring
title. 4 years later, Los Angeles, he confirmed it, as he did in Seul 1988 and
Barcelona 1992. He’s scored more than any other player in Olympic history,
127. Estiarte and horse rider Luis Álvarez de Cervera are the Spaniards
with most participations in the Olympic Games (6).

As a club player his titles include 2 European Cups (Barcelona and Pescara),
3 European Cups for national Cup Winners (1 with Barcelona and 2 with
Pescara), 9 Leagues (5 in Spain and 4 in Italy), 6 Cups (5 in Italy and 1 in
Spain) and 4 European Supercups (2 with Barcelona and 2 with Pescara).

Swimming for Spain he’s won the World Championship (Perth 1998) and
the gold medal at the Atlanta games (1996). And I don’t want to bore you

with the FINA bronze medals (3), the European ones (2: silver and bronze),
two second places at World Cups and an Olympic silver medal.

Rafa Nadal’s individual performance at such a young age is a feat that’s
almost unrepeatable: 2 Davis Cup, six Grand Slam titles under his belt
- 4 Roland Garros in a row plus Wimbledon and the Australian Open- and
last year’s Olympic gold medal. On top of this we have to consider that
he is the current and undisputed number one in the world. And having
overthrown Federer. My only question mark is how he stands against
Joan Llaneras: 2 Olympic gold medals and 2 silver ones; 6 gold medals
and 3 silver & 2 bronze awards in Track Cycling World Championships.
He competed (successfully) in the Points Race and Madison specialities.
If you think that he is still ahead of Nadal, that’s fine with me. It’s just
a question of time: Llaneras retired after last summer’s games and Rafa
Nadal will be 23 this coming Roland Garros.

A clip from "El Mundano TV" , that is, Adrian´s own TV set:

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