Tennis legend Nadal could have been top-level footballer, reveals Mourinho

Rafael Nadal

Jose Mourinho has claimed tennis star Rafael Nadal could have enjoyed a top-level career in football.

Speaking on a visit to Wimbledon, the former Chelsea, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Inter boss spoke of his admiration for one of tennis’s most successful ever players.

Eighteen-time Grand Slam winner Nadal has been hit by injury in recent years but has returned to the top of the game again, winning his 12th French Open title in June.

Mourinho, who was due to watch Nadal take on Nick Kyrgios on Centre Court on Thursday, said of Nadal to BBC Sport: “He is incredible. I am happy he didn’t but I think he could also have been a fantastic football player.

“His uncle (Miguel Angel Nadal) was my player in Barcelona in 1996 and I know Rafa can play football, and well.

"He could with his physicality, with his mentality and his also with his skill he could be. But thank you so much he wasn’t because for tennis he is what he is.”

Mourinho,56, was employed as a translator at Barcelona under Bobby Robson and Louis Van Gaal and got to know the Nadal family well.

Nadal's uncle, Miguel Angel, played more than 200 games for Barcelona between 1991 and 1999 and had two spells with Real Mallorca. He also played 62 times for Spain.

Mourinho has previously criticised the current ATP rules which prevent coaching during tennis matches.

"I like the one-on-one battle but I think communication with the coaches normally should improve the quality of the game," he told the Wimbledon Channel.

‘In football we can communicate but because we are with incredible noise, with 60,000 or 70,000 people sometimes, it’s difficult to communicate, and sometimes I feel I would love to communicate, I would love to improve some details.

"So in tennis, because they have so much times where they have little periods of rest in between the sets. Let’s say, if not a continuous, permanent communication – because that would change everything – but when they are in resting periods, I would like the coaches to have communication with the players."