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Ex-Man Utd and Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho reveals Rafael Nadal could have been an elite footballer if not for tennis

, Ex-Man Utd and Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho reveals Rafael Nadal could have been an elite footballer if not for tennis

JOSE MOURINHO once revealed Rafael Nadal could have been an elite FOOTBALLER.

The former Chelsea and Manchester United boss worked with Rafa’s uncle Miguel Angel Nadal during their days together at Barcelona in the 1990s.

Rafael Nadal may have 21 Grand Slams but could have been a footballer instead like his uncle Miguel Angel
Jose Mourinho made the claim about the tennis star after working with his uncle at Barcelona in the 1990s

Mourinho was employed as a translator before becoming an assistant boss at Nou Camp under Sir Bobby Robson and Louis van Gaal.

The 59-year-old now-Roma chief, who knew the Nadal family well, is a big tennis fan and is often spotted at Wimbledon and Queen’s.

Nadal, 35, has won 21 Grand Slam titles and considered among the leading tennis players of all time.

Asked about Rafa’s tennis achievements, Mourinho lifted the lid on his footballing skills, revealing: “He is incredible.

“I am happy he didn’t, but he could also have been a fantastic football player.

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“His uncle was my player in Barcelona in 1996. I know that Rafa can play football and well.

“So he could have played with his physicality, mentality, and his skill, too. He could be.

“Thank you so much he wasn’t. Because in tennis he is what he is.”

Miguel Angel played more than 200 games for the Catalan giants between 1991 and 1999 in between long spells with Mallorca.

He also played 62 games for the Spanish national team, while Rafa has won the Davis Cup – the World Cup of tennis – four times.

Meanwhile, Nadal has admitted his quarter-final showdown with Novak Djokovic on Tuesday evening could be the last French Open match of his career.

The 35-year-old set up the mouth-watering last-eight clash by coming from behind to beat Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime in five sets on Sunday.

And that sees the No5 seed and 13-time champion face long-term rival Djokovic in the quarters.

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Nadal has battled injuries throughout his stellar career and suffers from Mueller-Weiss Syndrome, an incurable and chronic condition in his foot.

He considered retiring at the end of last year when he had surgery before incredibly bouncing back to win the Australian Open for his record-breaking Grand Slam No21.

However, the Spaniard is well aware he is in the latter stages of his life on the tennis tour – and does not know how long he has left to compete before his body says enough is enough.

So the King of Clay is taking nothing for granted ahead of a 59th clash with 20-time major winner and reigning French Open champ.

Nadal said: “I am in the quarter-finals of Roland-Garros. I am just enjoying the fact I am here for one more year.

“Being honest, every match that I play here, I don’t know if it’s going to be my last match here in Roland Garros, in my tennis career. That is the situation now.

“But ultimately they’re special matches in a special setting and I’ll give it my best.

“I went through a tough process again with my foot. I do not know what will happen in the near future with my career, so I am just trying to enjoy and fight as much as I can to keep living the dream.

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“I hope to give myself a chance to play at the highest level possible and then let’s see.”

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