Rafa Nadal is Queen Elizabeth of Spain, by John Carlin

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in getting up every time we fall.”


It wasn’t even a topic of discussion for a long time. Rafael Nadal is undoubtedly the best and most beloved athlete in the history of Spain. And most surprisingly, its glory trumps sports. Will he be the undisputed national hero not only today but of all time?

It is difficult for a living Spaniard to think of another person to rival him in terms of admiration, affection, and the pride that he arouses. When one thinks of Spain, “consensus” is not the first word that comes to mind. Uniquely, Nadal generates a consensus, a consensus similar to that of Queen Elizabeth in the United Kingdom, which is revered by 90 percent of her subjects.

No other Spaniard reaches the level of popularity of the islands of Mallorca. Football players? Nothing, because the tribalism rooted in football prevents it. Andres Iniesta may have approached him after scoring the winning goal in the 2010 World Cup, but once the euphoria faded, half of the country remembered he was playing for Barcelona. artists? Almodovar, Bardem, Cruz, Placido Domingo, Rosalia? No, everyone responds to tastes that are, in their own way, elitist.

And for politicians, no way.

Rafael Nadal enthusiastically raises a new trophy at Roland Garros, which adds his 14th

Christoph Enna/AFP

King of Spain, and no. Seeing him in the penalty area celebrate Nadal’s victory in Paris on Sunday was to understand that as a unifying figure, which is exactly what he most aspires to, Felipe does not reach Rafa or scafoid his feet. The king is quite tall, but small in national stature compared to the winner of 22 Grand Slam tournaments. There are a lot of anti-monarchies in Spain, and few who look at the crown with disdain.

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Engaging with Nadal risks losing votes, not winning them

Here in Catalonia we have dissidents from Nadalia . Normal if you are independent. The Spanish national idol will displease you, by definition. But how do politicians show so little of their heads? does not depend on And the caution with which they talk about Nadal – or rather they don’t talk about him – attests to his popularity among ordinary citizens. Only the most fundamentalists, who put dogmatic purity over electoral pragmatism, dare criticize him. Engaging with Nadal risks losing votes, not winning them.

Nadal has just about everything. As an athlete, he’s a brave, tireless stallion, at 36 years old, and playing better than ever. As an international idol, he helps turn off the pools. As a person, he is kind, noble and stubborn virtues, which all Spaniards would like to consider their virtues. And as a political figure, he is nothing.

Like the Queen of England, she is silent on the major issues of national debate. Presumably more Spanish than a separatist, belonging to the People’s Party rather than the Socialist Workers’ Party. It is also assumed, in private, that the Queen would be more conservative than progressive, and would be more against Scottish nationalism than against it. But in both cases they are suppressed. They do not express their political prejudices in public. It is presented as a blank piece of paper on which everyone can write whatever they want.

There is no doubt that Nadal as a contemporary national hero stands alone at the top. As a historical champion, there aren’t many rivals in sight either. sincere? We would say no. Velasquez Goya, Picasso or Dali? Drawing is a minority sport compared to the world tennis scene. Literature too, so Cervantes: Exodus. cuts? Huge figure but it generates colonial guilt. Philip II or the Catholic Kings? Great in their days, but also victims of historical revisionism. Perhaps the only deceased who comes close to Nadal is Cid Campeador, although somewhat forgotten, as Emperor Hadrian.

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We are talking here, remember, the consensus, the mass, the numbers, the percentage of Spaniards who positively sympathize with the person. Not of intrinsic merit or global influence. It could be argued that the conquest of Mexico with 200 soldiers not only required more daring than winning three sets, it changed the lives of more than 14 Roland Garros victories, but that’s not the point here.

There is no doubt that as a contemporary national hero he stands alone at the top

It’s curious, it’s perverted, it may be crazy, but Rafa Nadal – whose virtue lies in how well he hits the ball on a track, on the net – is today the most admired Spaniard of all time by his countrymen. or not?

Amber Cross

"Music buff. Unapologetic problem solver. Organizer. Social media maven. Web nerd. Incurable reader."

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