Rafael Nadal received the “Legend Award” on yesterday night at Marca’s silver anniversary gala in Madrid, after being selected by the sport daily’s readers as the best Spanish athlete of all-time.
In front of other Spanish sporting legends, including four-time Grand Slam champion Manuel Santana, the ATP World Tour No. 1 paid tribute to his predecessors and peers.
“I would like to thank everyone behind me and all those who aren’t here tonight because as well as tennis, I’m mad about sport in general,” he said. “I have had some unforgettable afternoons thanks to all those who have taken Spain to the highest level in sport. Thank you so much because that excitement is what makes sport feel different.”
Nadal finished first in the Marca.com poll, held in commemoration of the paper’s 75 years, receiving 25.6 per cent of all votes cast. Five-time Tour de France winner Miguel Indurain finished second with 11.6 per cent of votes, and NBA star Pau Gasol third with 8.6 per cent.
Gasol, who attended the all-Spanish final between Nadal and David Ferrer at Roland Garros this year, sent a video message congratulating his countryman. “I want to send a special tribute to my friend Rafa for winning this 75th Anniversary MARCA ‘Leyenda’ award,” he said. “Congratulations, enjoy it, you’re the best.”