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15/08/2015 08:45
Andrea Giani extends his legend now from the sidelines
2015 CEV Volleyball European League - Men

Walbrzych, Poland, August 15, 2015. What to do when you are one of the greatest stars of the sport, and you decide to put an end to your playing career? For Italian legend Andrea Giani the question that haunts many athletes on the dawn of their sporting lives had a very simple answer: To give back all the blessings that Volleyball had bestowed upon him. Also, to make a difference in younger generations.    

“I love this sport, and I love helping the players. That’s the difference from when I was a player; back then, I focussed on technique, on spiking, on serving… now my only weapon is my word, and I am glad that I have the opportunity to use it to pass all my experience,” said Andrea Giani, one of the most celebrated Italian players of all times and one of the most distinguished Volleyball stars in the history of the sport.  

For the legendary player who marked an era with the victorious Italian “Generazione di Fenomeni” it has taken only a few months to transfer his imposing and glorious presence on the court to a career on the coaching bench that is following the same successful steps. The all-around Italian ace, who was designated mentor of the Slovenian squad last March, took his team to the 2015 CEV Volleyball European League – Men title in the Final Four held this week in the Polish city of Walbrzych, in a demonstration that Giani is able to transmit to his disciples his winning personality and his passion for the sport.  

Passing the torch  

It was not an easy transition for Giani, who took a long time to get ready for the new stage in his life. “In the last four years of my playing career, I prepared to be a coach, so for me there was no doubt that I would continue my bond with Volleyball,” declared the three-time world champion. “I have thought a lot about passing the torch to new generations. For someone like me, who has played for so many years, I know very well that in order to be a good trainer, I needed to have a lot of energy inside me; this energy that I have is what gives me the ability to coach. I enjoy so much what I do, and it has been so rewarding, that this is actually the battery that keeps charging me,” commented the Volleyball hall-of-famer.



Having multiple options to seek greener pastures out the sports after ending his stint as an athlete, the affable and humble 45 year-old Volleyball sensation calls his passion for Volleyball as the true beacon that guides his destiny, together with a desire that has a much more simpler foundation than title-gathering: serving others.“I just want to help players reach a new step in their careers, whatever that might be. I want to help them to improve, whether it is from the technical standpoint or physically or else. There is a moment in which athletes go their own way, but until then, anything I can do to help, that will be my reward,” says the three-time Olympic medallist and five-time Olympian.    

Mind and emotion

Many leading lights in the sport learn the hard way that the road to glory is paved with dedication and hard-work. Now that Giani aims at making a difference from the sidelines, the superstar who holds the Knight's Order of Merit of the Italian Republic points out that the main component of success is the combination of passion and brainpower. “In order to become a star, of course, talent is required, but also emotion and mind; that’s the most important factor, your mind. Talent probably makes the 60% but the rest is how you use your mind and the feelings you put into the court,” stated one of only seven players in history who have claimed three consecutive gold medals at the FIVB Men's Volleyball World Championship. “Every day, when we train, I always tell my players that they always have to try; always keep on trying, no matter what. If you try, then your path to victory is much simpler.”   



To grasp the relevance and the impact on the sport that Giani caused as an athlete, critics just would have to contemplate one single fact: The Naples-born 1.96-meters tall signed the outstanding number of 474 caps with the Italian national team. That makes him the record holder of international appearances with the blue shirt – more than any other countryman in any sport; so the four-time European champion may know one thing or two about teaching how to handle pressure on the court. “Every match is a different story. It is important that after the match, we go over what we did, physically, tactically, emotionally, and that we improve for our next match. I give a lot of importance to emotions, to the way we play. If we face another team and they were better than us, fine, but it is important to give out all that we have. If I know that we have played with heart, I’ll be satisfied.” 

Savouring the moment  

For someone as successful as Giani, the gentle mentor of the Slovenian team is not the kind to rejoice in past graces, and feels sincerely flattered when Volleyball fans or colleagues recognise him and congratulate him for his heroic and historic sporting feats. His focus, he says is to look forward and keep on winning. “Even after playing for so many years, and even after winning a few titles, I always have in mind that you have to start from scratch. That’s also something I want to teach my players. Every day, every game is a new opportunity,” he comments, keeping on showing a remarkable hunger for triumphs. Giani celebrated a sensational run in the 2015 edition of the European League, leading his team to the gold medal after keeping an unbeaten record in the competition.

“Of course, I have to be sincere; coaching the national team of my country is always a dream of mine. But I would like to coach at the Olympic Games, in a Champions League final, in the final of the championship of my country… where? That’s not so important. The important thing for me is to coach a team, just that,” comments the former outside spiker and middle blocker.  

It takes courage to keep on trying, considering that anyone playing safe would stay at home polishing the countless collection of awards achieved after a career of 30 years. However, Andrea Giani was always known for breaking the limits. And while he keeps modesty as his main hallmark, he doesn’t hesitate when asked for his message to future generations.  

“Those who are in sport must do it because they actually enjoy what they do. It doesn’t matter how professional you are, you must have fun on the court. That’s what makes the difference. There are many players who reach the top but are not fulfilled because they do not appreciate it when they step into the court. It is essential to enjoy what you do, that’s my message: enjoy the moment.”   


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