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'We have before us the best athlete of all time' - Rafael Nadal receives major honour

Rafael Nadal after winning Roland Garros

Rafael Nadal has been described as the 'best athlete of all time' after receiving a major honour in Madrid.

Nadal was awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of Dos de Mayo of the Community of Madrid on Wednesday in recognition of a stunning career, which is still showing no signs of ending.

When presenting the award at at event at the Madrid government headquarters, Isabel Dias Ayuso, president of the Community of Madrid, hailed Nadal's “enormous sporting record and his extraordinary merits as a person”.

“We have before us the best athlete of all time, with values, in addition, such as humility, effort, discipline and respect for the rival,” Ayuso said.

Nadal was an understandably grateful recipient, and he took the opportunity to pay tribute to healthcare workers who have fought the coronavirus this year.

“It is an honour to receive this award and I want to share it with all the citizens of Madrid," Nadal said.

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"I always receive a special affection from everyone here. In sports, in this city all sport is supported.

“And I wanted to dedicate a few words to the health personnel, especially those in Madrid, very punished in the first wave, and to the State Forces and Security, thank you.

“[This] terrible pandemic will soon be part of memory and we can return to share and enjoy the things that have always made us happy as soon as possible.

“I am not exaggerating if I say that it has affected us all in one way or another, but I want to send a message of encouragement to the families who have lost a loved one.

"Soon we will celebrate things as before."

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