It is very common to see volleyball players becoming volleyball coaches after retirement. However, the current edition of the Men’s World Championships has brought together an unusual number of very talented former players who now captain teams all around the world. In almost all games of the competition, fans are able to see former Olympic and World Champions standing beside the court in formal wear and suits. But who was the best of them all? We’ll let the readers decide:
- Brazil’s Renan Dal Zotto: Played in 3 Olympic Games, winning silver in 1992. He is a member of the FIVB Hall of Fame.
- Belgium’s Andrea Anastasi: 140+ matches for Italy. Was a world champion in 1990.
- Slovenia’s Slobodan Kovac: Won Olympic gold in 2000 and bronze in 1996 representing Serbia
- Serbia’s Nikola Grbic: Kovac’s teammate in the Serbian squads mentioned above. He is a member of the FIVB Hall of Fame.
- Japan’s Yuichi Nakagaichi: Played for Japan at the 1992 Olympic Games and the 1990, 1994, and 1998 WCHs.
- Canada’s Stéphane Antiga: MVP of the 2001 Champions League, a bronze medalist with France at the 2002 World Cup and a silver medalist at the 2006 World League.
- France’s Laurent Tillie: 400+ caps for the French national team. Played at the 1988 and 1992 Olympic Games.
- Bulgaria’s Plamen Konstantinov: Competed for Bulgaria at the 1996 and 2008 Olympic Games. Won bronze at the 2006 and 2007 World Cups.
- Finland’s Tuomas Sammelvuo: 290+ caps for the Finnish national team. Won the Champions league in 2005. Sucessful club career spanned stints with Piacenza, Perugia, and Novosibirsk.
- Mohamed Mouselhy: 350+ caps for the Egyptian national team. He played at the 2000 Olympics. One of the best setters to ever come out of the African continent.
Coaches Renan and Kovac talked about what it means to become a coach after being such sucessful players (Globo.com):
“These are characters that have devoted their whole lives to volleyball. This is very cool. We are in a cool environment, the conversations are very pleasant. We all understand that inside the court there is a war, but in the hotel there is a climate of reciprocity, of sharing information. It’s so cool to see that people who haves helped build volleyball for many years continue to do so. However, it’s not because one was a great player that one would be a great coach. There is a lot of studying and working involved.” – Renan
“This kind of work is very difficult. At first, I thought a good player could not become a good coach. In the past, the players who wanted to coach kept thinking as players. Volleyball has given us so much, and we want to give something back. I played volleyball, but now am on the other side. I take the experience from my playing days, add new ones to the mix, and try to help my players.” -Kovac