Carlos Matallana, former soccer player affected by Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis since 2014, wrote a column dedicated to Rafael Nadal, entitled A Letter To Rafael Nadal. Thanks to this publication, Matallana was one of the finalists at the International Sport Press Association AIP Sports Media Awards, for Best Column category, in Budapest, although he cannot participate directly because of his health problems.
The letter was written after Nadal won his 12th French Open. Below is an excerpt of the beautiful letter written by Carlos Matallanas, which you can read in full on eng.as.com: "Hello, Rafael. I'm afraid I'm not going to be very original.
It is impossible to be when such overwhelming consensus exists. Furthermore, it's been some 10 years or so since I ran out of clever words when I was writing reports and analysis of your victories and setbacks for El Confidencial.
I spent the following five years repeating myself excessively. I know that my fellow journalists suffer the same affliction. We have all been left literally speechless. With that in mind, I'm not going to waste column inches in an attempt to describe what we are all aware of.
I would however like to take advantage of this privileged window I have been afforded to explain how I see you from my point of view. I have suffered a terrible defeat, a brutal illness that cut short my life's project when I found myself in its sweetest moment.
According to all the statistics of average survival rates I shouldn't even be here today. Since 2016, I have watched your games lying prostrate in bed, without the ability to move. I am a football man - it is one of the few things I feel qualified to talk about with conviction.
But fortunately my footballer's eyes also allow me to enjoy other sports and to feel affinity for their complexities and challenges. Sport is culture. And sport is education. And if Cervantes or Goya sketched us and act as reference points through their ingenious works of reflection, you perform the same role through your intuitive movement across a tennis court.
I am in no doubt: when I weigh up how much I have lost through my illness and the little that it has left intact, the result will continue to ring positive because of simple yet huge pleasures like being able to continue watching you a racquet in your hand.
Life is a little more worth it thanks to the existence of our Rafael Nadal. Yours sincerely, Carlos Matallanas."