The always-entertaining and outspoken Vital Heynen, head coach of the Poland Men’s National Volleyball team, has come up with another gem at the final media session before the Final 6 of the 2018 FIVB Men’s Volleyball World Championship.
“I feel tired, old and stupid,” he said. “Tired because we have been travelling for 12 hours from Bulgaria to Italy, stupid because I’m the only coach here unable to speak the language of my own team, and old because I’m the only coach here for the second consecutive World Championship.”
The Belgian native has led his team through a delicate balancing act at the World Championships. When captain Michal Kubiak has been available, the team has been unbeatable. When Kubiak has been on the bench, Poland hasn’t won. The team has faced a string of unfortunate and unlucky events, including complaints of food poisoning at their opening round hotel, some illness that has impacted several members of the team, and having to take cabs around Varna instead of a team transport.
And yet, in spite of it all, they’re back in the Final 6 at the World Championships with an opportunity to defend their title from 2014.
Other Quotes from Final 6 Coaches Before Play Begins Wednesday:
- Serbia coach Nikola Grbic: “We are in the top six and I wouldn’t pick one as a favourite. We must never look at the face of our opponent if we want to be the world champions. We are emotionally stronger after a long path and a danger for anyone in our way.”
- USA coach John Speraw: “Every time a competition enters the final phase there is always a conversation about the group draws: I don’t think there is an easier group, Italy and Serbia are playing so well. And I haven’t seen Poland very much but when Kubiak is on fire it’s always hard. Our group is challenging, but that challenge can make us better.”
- Italy coach Gianlorenzo Blenginni: “Serbia are very strong, full of Italian League superstars and we know how challenging that championship is. Poland don’t surprise us, either: They’re rightfully in the top six, as all others, with the only exception of France. But we are confident because we can feel an entire nation supporting us.”
- Brazil coach Renan Dal Zotto: “We start the Final Six with the right spirit: great desire and the will to play at our best. We are happy to be here in a special moment: the team is particularly fit, and psychologically ready. The groups are very balanced: the six top teams are here, France the only one missing.”
- Russian coach Sergei Shliapnkov: “This is the final and most competitive stage of the tournament and that means that all teams are just equally as strong. We want to play a good game, show good volleyball, regardless of the opponent. We feel ready to take on the game with Brazil as well as on those to follow.”
The penultimate stage of the tournament begins on Wednesday in Turin, Italy, where Brazil will play Russia at 17:00, and Italy will play Serbia at 21:15 (local time).