Amazing reaction and reach from my blog last week. It literally went around the World from Spain, to the UK, Ireland, USA, Australia, New Zealand, France, Netherlands, Antigua & Barbuda, India, China, Sweden, South Africa, Hungary, Malta, France, Mexico, Canada, Switzerland, Sweden. Thank you for reading and sharing I really appreciate it.
Mallorca is an island of approximately 950,000 inhabitants. If you compare it to a City in the UK then Birmingham is probably the closest, at approximately one million.
It amazes me that an island of our size can produce so many world class sports people. It is a fact that Mallorca is one of the Spanish regions with most world-class sports stars per square metre. Our sporting facilities are second to none from football to tennis to swimming each town has at least one of these facilities amongst others. There are so many teams that come to train at our facilities. Including Team Sky in cycling in the North, the Great Britain swimming team at the Best Centre in Colonia de San Jordi and the Son Biblioni football training centre just outside Palma, which has played host to several teams including: Inter Milan, Chelsea, Hertha Berlin, Sevilla FC and the Spanish and German national sides.
I have yet to mention the jewel in the World of tennis academies situated in the town of Manacor. The Rafa Nadal Academy opened 4 years ago this month and has built a fine reputation across the World. Which leads me nicely onto the man who won his 13th French Open title and 20th overall last Sunday, step forward and take a bow, Mallorca’s own, Rafa Nadal.
Probably our finest sportsman and greatest ambassador since he first won the French Open as a 19 year old back in 2005. Funnily enough he is coached by Palma born Carlos Moyá who won the French Open in 1998. It’s a tremendous achievement for Rafa and this week the Spanish government has announced the award of the Gran Cruz de la Real Orden del Mérito Deportivo (the Grand Cross of the Royal Order of Sporting Merit) to him. He becomes only the second Mallorquín to win it after Joan Llaneras the cyclist who was born in Porreres. The Government in my view should ask Rafa to become an ambassador for the island as there isn’t a better person Worldwide who can help promote it is as an amazing holiday destination. With all the titles and money that he has won, I’m sure Rafa could live anywhere in the World. But he chooses to live in Porto Cristo on the East coast of the island.
One to look out for in the tennis World is Jaume Munar, who was born in Santanyi. He is currently the 112th ranked player in the World and he trains at the Rafa Nadal Academy. At the French Open he was very unlucky to lose to the eventual semi-finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas in 5 sets after being 2 sets up. There is high hopes for him in the future.
Jorge Lorenzo was born in Palma, he won the 2006 and 2007 250cc World motorcycle Championships, and the 2010, 2012 and 2015 Moto GP World Championship. He retired last year with 68 career wins and he is sixth on the all time winners list.
One to look out for in Moto GP is Joan Mir, born in Palma who has been riding motorcycles from the age of just 6 years old and hasn’t looked back since. In 2019 he started competing in the Moto GP World Championship riding for Suzuki and finished in 12th place. This season after three 2nd placed finishes he currently lies in 2nd place in the Championship and has a genuine chance to become World Champion.
I was lucky enough to see Marco Asensio from his debut playing for Real Mallorca. He was even at that time, head and shoulders above everyone playing in La Liga 2 in the 2013/14 season. He joined Real Mallorca from local club Playas de Calvia but it didn’t take long for the big boys to come knocking. It was a travesty for Mallorca to sell him to Real Madrid for just 3.5 million euros but he has gone on to win the Spanish League and Champions League twice. Not only that, he has played 24 times for Spain. He is without doubt currently the best footballer to come out of Mallorca and he is currently worth 40 million euros.
I am closer to the football World so there are 4 Mallorca born players to look out for right now.
Rafel Obrador is a left back who was born in Campos in the middle of Mallorca and has just moved to Real Madrid. The 16 year old signed a 5 year contract with Real Mallorca last October and has moved in a deal worth 3 million euros plus add ons. He was called into the first team squad 3 times last season in La Liga by former boss Vincente Moreno. He made his debut in the final game of the season when he came on as substitute in the final few minutes of a 2-2 draw. Madrid must have high hopes for him paying that sort of money for a 16 year old.
Marvin Park is an attacking midfielder who made his debut for Real Madrid this season in the opening game of the season. Born in Mallorca, he joined Tranmere Rovers’ youth academy as a nine-year-old in 2009, and spent three years in the North West before returning to Mallorca and playing for Ciutat de Palma and Atlético Rafal. He then went onto develop at La Salle and Jonquet Penya Arrabal both in Palma, before Madrid snapped up the youngster in 2016, and Park has flourished at Los Blancos ever since.
Pablo Ramon is a defender from Calvia, Mallorca who played previously for Son Caliu and in the CD San Francisco Division Honor 2017/18 team. He has just won the UEFA Youth League playing for Real Madrid beating Benfica in the final 3-2. He is currently being managed by former legendary player Raul.
Cata Coll is a goalkeeper who was born in Portol, Mallorca. She played previously for Sant Marcel, Cide, Marratxí and Collerense. She was bought by Barcelona last year and sent out on loan to Sevilla. She’s now back in Barcelona and looking to break into their first team. Whilst here on the island she was training at the Pablo Roca goalkeeping school where my youngest son Jude goes. She also trained with him a few times too.
Rudy Fernandez is our most famous export in the World of Basketball. Born in Palma, he started his professional career in 2002 for DKV Joventut in the Spanish League. He moved to the NBA in America and played for the Portland Trail Blazers 2008-2011 and the Denver Nuggets 2011-2012. He then returned to Europe to play for Real Madrid and is still there today.
I could go on as there are so many sports men and women who I haven’t mentioned but it is something to be very proud of and long may it continue.
Take care everyone and enjoy your weekend!
Richie presents the Radio One Mallorca Breakfast show Monday to Friday 07.30-11.00am on 93.8fm in Mallorca and 102fm in Calvià, online at www.radioonemallorca.com on mobile through their free App for IPhone & Android, The Tunein Radio App, iTunes, the Spanish TDT TV service and all smart speakers. If you can’t hear him on the radio then you’ll find him working at Pirates Adventure the islands number one night out and every now and again he may make an understudy appearance!
Follow him on Twitter @DadTaxi1 & Instagram @dad.taxi or feel free to email him at firstname.lastname@example.org