King Felipe with Rafa Nadal on Tuesday. | @CasaReal

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On Tuesday, King Felipe thanked Rafael Nadal for the effort and excellence that have made him one of Spain's "best ambassadors".

This was at an awards ceremony at the University of Alcalá de Henares - the 'Galardón Camino Real' to honour Spaniards who, "in an outstanding and exemplary manner, have projected and enhanced the positive image of Spain in the United States".

Nadal issued an assurance that the honour does not mark the end of his career. "I intend to continue competing." King Felipe said that the award indicates that Rafa Nadal is "a new link in an excellent chain of Spaniards who, due to their admirable and outstanding work, contribute to promoting and disseminating the best image of Spain in the countries of north America".

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Through their efforts, Nadal and previous winners of this award transmit the "most authentic and positive" values. The King highlighted Nadal's "impeccable attitude, not only in the sports arena". The manner in which Nadal "dazzles countless followers has led him to be one of the best ambassadors that our country can have, and for that I wish to thank him".

José Ignacio Goirigolzarri, president of Caixabank and of the advisory board of the university's Franklin Institute, said that there had been unanimous agreement to give the award to Nadal, because "he embodies the highest qualities of athletes - sacrifice, effort, fair play, humility in victory and greatness in the face of adversity". "He is an essential reference for young people due to his honesty, ability to overcome, and respect for his rivals."

Previous winners of the award have included the basketball player Pau Gasol and the actor Antonio Banderas.