RAFAEL NADAL begged fans NOT to vote for him to win the Laureus Sportsman of the Year – and instead told them to pick a rival.
The Spanish tennis king, 36, enjoyed a simply stunning 2022.
Rafael Nadal won two Grand Slams in an incredible 2022
He won the Australian Open and French Open to move on to 22 Grand Slam singles titles, the men’s record now joined by Novak Djokovic.
Nadal also went on a 20-match unbeaten streak to kick-start his campaign, despite only just coming back from injury, and was forced to withdraw before his Wimbledon semi-final showdown with Nick Kyrgios due to an abdominal tear.
It was a truly remarkable season for the veteran tennis legend, who also became a father for the first time.
And yet he does not think he deserves to win the prestigious gong.
Instead, the football-loving muscle machine believes it should go to Lionel Messi.
The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner led his Argentina side to a memorable World Cup triumph in Qatar, with the instrumental captain crowned player of the tournament.
Nadal took to Instagram and said: “An honour to be nominated again to the Laureus Sportsman of the Year… but… this year…
“Come on @leomessi you deserve it.”
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Fans on social media loved the classy gesture from the former world No1 and two-time Wimbledon winner.
One said: “The GOAT Nadal recognises the GOAT Messi, if that’s not beautiful…”
Another wrote: “Nadal such a sweetheart let’s goooo Messi for the win.”
And a third added: “This is why Nadal is the best tennis player of all time.”
Nadal – who wants compatriot, former world No1 and US Open champion Carlos Alcaraz to win the breakthrough award – is up against Kylian Mbappe, Max Verstappen, Mondo Duplantis, Steph Curry and Messi for the men’s award.
On the women’s side, the nominees are Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (Athletics), Katie Ledecky (Swimming), Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone (Athletics), Alexia Putellas (Football), Mikaela Shiffrin (Alpine Skiing) and Iga Swiatek (Tennis).
Lionel Messi led Argentina to World Cup glory in Qatar
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