Mallorcan tennis player Rafael Nadal meets fans at piazza del Popolo in Rome. | ETTORE FERRARI


Ask anyone to name a famous Mallorcan, and they are likely to say Rafael Nadal. A tennis player whose extraordinary achievements during his 23 years of professional tennis has seen him hailed as a goat: Greatest Of All Time! Last week saw tears and an outpouring of respect in Madrid, as he left a Spanish tournament court for the last time flanked by a guard of honour. This year he retires.

During his career, Nadal who turns 38 next month, has represented the best of Mallorca. His passionate patriotism and love of the island has ensured, while most top athletes flock to live in tax havens, Nadal has resolutely called Mallorca home. Happy to pay vast amounts of tax from his estimated career earnings of 500 million dollars into the Mallorcan economy. Enabling him like a homing pigeon, to return whenever possible to reenergise on the island he loves. He once told me after particularly intense back-to-back tournaments that he needed to get back to Mallorca to be with family and friends. Mallorca has kept him grounded.

Moreover, keen to give back, Nadal has also heavily invested in Mallorca. His magnificent Rafael Nadal Tennis Academy that he built in his hometown of Manacor is renowned for its excellence worldwide, providing employment and a new generation of players. Indeed, Nadal has put this small island of Mallorca firmly on the tennis map.

Without Rafael Nadal and his uncle Toni, I doubt this island would have been chosen by the ATP to hold the Mallorca Open Championship in June. The warmup to the most prestigious Wimbledon. Thus making Mallorca the only grass court tennis tournament in Southern Europe.

Representing solid family values, polite, humble in both victory and defeat, Mallorca could not have a better ambassador than Rafael Nadal.