If the shoe fits…

Photo by Beth Wilson

Photo by Beth Wilson

The August 2009 issue of Tennis Magazine’s Sarah Thurmond tries to bust the Rafa shoe myth.

Rumor has it Rafael Nadal wears sneakers too small for his feet. He’s denied it, but that hasn’t stopped fans from spreading the quirky factoid through cybersapce.

Since 2007, the rumor has appeared in online forums. Last summer the buzz peaked when several fans commented on Tennis Warehouse’s message board that they heard John McEnroe say Nadal plays in shoes that are one and a half sizes smaller than what he should actually wear. Skeptics wondered if Mac was mixing up U.K. and U.S. sizes. Others chose to believe it was another of the No. 1’s idiosyncrasies, and offered theories. “He wears them like soccer players… for a better feel of the ground,” a forum-user wrote.

On more than one occasion, fans have sought the truth from Nadal. Two years ago, in a London Times online Q&A session during Wimbledon, a fan asked if he wears tighty Nikes. Nadal’s response was no, that he wears his “normal” shoe size. Another fan confronted Rafa in a Times Q&A during last year’s U.S. Open. This time the 6-foot-1 Nadal gave his shoe size as a 10, and added, “I have small feet compared to other tennis players.”

So what’s the deal? Nadal’s manager confirmed that his client wears a European size 44, and a Nike spokesperson said he wears a U.S. size 10. (A U.S. 10 converts to a European 44 in Nike shoes.) There is one more piece of evidence that supports the small feet claim. An article, published in a Mallorcan newspaper in 2005 about the making of Nadal’s figure for Madrid’s wax museum, says the sculptor measured Rafa’s foot. She found it to be a European size 44.

On that note, let’s do as one poster proposed, and “put this silly rumor to rest.”

26 Responses

  1. Suzanne says:

    This is interesting because I have heard Johnny Mac mention this many times, and the last time I heard him speak about it he actually said that he asked Rafa himself if he wore shoes that were 1 1/2 sizes too small and Rafa confirmed that he does. I don’t know if this was a misunderstanding, but Mac sure seemed to think that the “true” of it was that Rafa does wear small shoes and it seems to be a preventative measure because of the stress fracture problem he had years ago. As always, it’s hard to know what the real scoop is. No matter…as long as our boy with the “small feet” brings his huge heart back to the court we’ll all be happy. Oh come soon, US hartcourt season, and bring Rafa with you!!!

  2. Josh says:

    Man, size 10 is small for 6ft 1? I am 6ft and I’mm 10 so how small are my feet…jesus; I thought I had big feet.

    • mary says:

      Well, well. I thought his feet were small compared to his size. The latest photo from babz shows this. My son is 12 and already his feet are size 12. He is going to be a giant though. Secretly, my boy is going to be a lady killer. He is also 150% gentleman (absolute genuine nature). His twin brother is the opposite in every way. Ying and Yang. Both blondy’s and blue eyes.

  3. johanne says:

    I’m not one to believe he’s seriously cramming his feet into smaller shoes… but this shoe myth has always stumped me, so who knows. I remember Rafa saying that Nike custom makes his shoes ever since the stress fracture in his foot. So I guess I’ll just believe that for now. :)

    P.S. FANTASTIC pic of Rafa’s feet, miri! Love the credit! ;)

  4. Atch2 says:

    His calves look great.

  5. CC says:

    I don’t know why, but I find this really interesting! It’s like I HAVE to know Rafa’s shoe size, NOW!

    I’m pretty sure Johnny Mac and others got the US vs. UK sizes mixed up.

    It’s interesting they say Rafa has small feet, yet a European size 44. My partner has a 44 foot, and his feet are definitely NOT small.

    My NIKE running shoes are US size 7, UK size 4.5 and European size 38. So if men’s and women’s sizes are the same for NIKE, then Rafa would only be a size 41, which I think is closer to the truth.

    • miri says:

      Men and women’s sizes aren’t the same in the US. I’m a women’s 8.5 (or 9) but a men’s 7 (I’ve both men’s shoes before since they seem to run wider some times). And, my Birkenstocks are 39s. Some possibly handy conversion charts.

      • CC says:

        And NIKE seem to have their own system, as I’m a UK 4.5 for them, but normally a UK 5. My Birkenstocks are 37, a UK 4. Too confusing. ;)

        Still, no way Rafa’s a size 44, me thinks.

  6. fabio says:

    i have many match worn rafael nadal shoes in my
    collection. (www.mrs-boots.com) rafa’s shoes size are not 44.

  7. mary says:

    no the blondy is awesome :D i am just lying to myself!!!

    • mary says:

      just ignore this. My 12 old decided he’d add his own comment while I was out shopping.

      • dutchgirl says:

        I’m glad my nearly 12 year old (it’s his birthday this sunday) doesn’t know enough English to post a comment, or I think he easily could do the same…

  8. AnaR says:

    Firstly, Rafa’s tall is no 6.1 feet.. is 6.2, Man can grow up to 25 years and this tall is from now, and the sizes of his shoes is not 44 .. it is more.

  9. Atch2 says:

    I’m sorry I’m a bit confused.
    So Rafa’s Manager and a Nike spokesman say Rafa wears a size 44. Rafa says he wears a normal shoe size and he has smaller feet than other players but didn’t state the size.

    And McEnroe says that Rafa wears smaller than Rafa’s actual size, and a reason for this is bec “He wears them like soccer players… for a better feel of the ground,” ?

    Is everyone implying that 44 is small and therefore his something else is the same?

    I luv the whole Rafa, right down to his dimples.

  10. sia says:

    Hee hee … my beautiful ex-boyfriend (I still do care), was about 6′ tall and had size 10 (USA)/44 (UK) feet, they were the perfect size … not those gargantuan size 12-14 feet that some men have these days (sorry Mary I’m sure your son’s feet are beautiful … just my own preference). Rafa just has a gentleman’s foot.
    Perfect.
    ps the ‘shoe’ size was MUCH more than adequate by the way.

  11. June says:

    Both my husband & son (who is going to be 22)wear a size 10 & they are about 5’8″ & come to think of it my dad also wore that same size. My brother who is 6′ probably wears a large size I would imagine, but don’t know. BTW, I really don’t care at all what size shoes RAFA wears (don’t mean to be rude here) as long as he feels comfortable in his own shoes & those feet can move on court & hold up those intriguing knees that occasionally tend to get damaged from time to time (hopefully he’s recovered nicely by now). His legs should be insured by Lloyd’s of London!

  12. nic says:

    If his manager and Nike confirm that he’s size 44, is that not enough to just say, yes, Rafa’s a size 44? Well, now that I think we have the answer to this long-standing question, what I really really want to know, HAVE to know, is Rafa’s waist size. I am dying to know this actually. He’s got nice broad strong shoulders, then that sexy waist, and then that nice bum. I think his waist anchors everything to perfection. When he wears those slim fitting Nike shirts, ooh la la, Rafa cuts the most gorgeous male figure ever! *faints*

    • Atch2 says:

      A wonderful description of a heavenly body that seems almost too good to be true. Wouldn’t u luv to get the measuremts of his whole being?
      I’m jealous of the person that took Rafa’s measurements for his Shanghai Masters Terracotta Warrior.

  13. faecoleman says:

    Good point there Anar. Men do grow till 25 unlike us girls… I too am not too bothered how big Rafa’s feet are but its interesting to see if he does where a smaller size for some sort of prevention, however 1 and a half sizes smaller is quite alot isn’t it? Seems more like a misunderstanding to me… However, body measurements, yep now that would be interesting, after all he does have the perfect body! no? Loves photo showing calves btw.

  14. AnaR says:

    The explanation is as follows. When Rafa’s manager gave this information did so in the European size .. not in the Spanish and the switch to the American size .. We have the mistake!. All people who travel outside of Spain know that it must to prove everything of clothes and shoes because, although the sizes are established and controlled apparently, the truth is not the case … Probably the number of size using in Rafa’s sportifs shoes is 44.5 or 45 is not exactly 44. But because into the European sizes are different depending on the country (In France is a size different to England and of course to Italy and Spain and Holland and Sweeden)this size gave from the Nadal’s manager is the middle size of Europe and not exactly the spanish size.. If the news is covered by a newspaper English or French .. will give the sizes they have in his country and when we are doing the change to American sizes there is always a mistake. On the other hand Rafael always has talked about his small feet by comparison with other players

  15. AnaR says:

    It really is a problem of changes of size between countries .. but size 44 is too small for the feet of Rafael .. I swear, I’ve been close to him and I know what I say. I have two boys who have 43 and 45 size of shoes.. And also there is a change of size between the sportifs shoes and other shoes more formals. Usually the formal/classics shoes are of smaller size than the sportifs.

  16. Martyn says:

    Size 44 seems a little small for Rafa as I’m 6″1 and wear a size 12 UK (13 US or 47 in European).

  17. EC says:

    I’m a 5ft 5, about 167 cm. I wear size 44 European size. That’s like rafa’s size and he’s so much taller than me. O.O