‘Come on Leo Messi, you deserve it’: Rafael Nadal backs Argentine World Cup winner to land Laureus Sportsman of the Year ahead of him – despite tennis legend taking his Grand Slam tally to TWENTY TWO with Australian and French Open glory last year
- Nadal was nominated for the prestigious Laureus Sportsman of the Year award
- Tennis legend said he was ‘honoured’ but felt that Lionel Messi should win it
- Nadal won Australian and French Open in 2022, while Messi won the World Cup
Both athletes enjoyed a stellar year, with Nadal triumphing in both the Australian Open and the French Open, while Messi finally won the one trophy that had eluded him for so long in Qatar.
By winning both reputable tennis titles, Nadal moved to a record-breaking haul of 22 Grand Slams, which Novak Djokovic equalled by winning the Australian Open himself at the start of 2023.
The Laureus Sportsman of the Year award recognises the achievements of athletes, and was most recently won by F1 champion Max Verstappen.
But Nadal – a massive Real Madrid fan – has suggested that there can be no other winner than former Barcelona star Messi, who scored twice for Argentina in the World Cup final.
Rafael Nadal has backed World Cup winner Lionel Messi to win the prestigious Laureus Sportsman of the Year ahead of him
The tennis legend took his Grand Slam tally to 22 with Australian and French Open glory last year
‘It’s an honour to be nominated again for Sportsman of the Year by The Laureus,’ the tennis legend said on Instagram.
‘But…this year… come on, Leo Messi, you deserve it.’
Messi’s PSG team-mate Kylian Mbappe – whose France side lost to Argentina in the World Cup final – is also nominated for the men’s award.
Meanwhile two-time F1 champion Verstappen is also up for the gong again, as is NBA star Steph Curry who led the Golden State Warriors to a fourth NBA Championship in eight years.
Swedish Olympic gold medallist Armand Duplantis – who currently holds the world record for indoor and outdoor pole vaulting – caps off the nominees.
Golden State are also nominated for Team of the Year alongside Messi’s Argentina and England Lionesses – who were crowned European champions last year.
Footballer Alexia Putellas, Tennis star Iga Swiatek, swimmer Katie Ledecky, skier Mikaela Shiffrin, and sprinters Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce and Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone are up for the Sportswoman of the Year Award.
Fraser-Price won a record fifth world 100m title, McLaughlin-Levrone broke a world record to clinch the 400m title, while US swimmer Ledecky won a record fourth goal medals at the World Aquatics championships.
Meanwhile, Christian Eriksen and Tiger Woods lead a shortlist of six nominees for the Comeback of the Year award.
Nadal, a massive Real Madrid fan, posted on his Instagram: ‘Come on Leo Messi, you deserve it’