Volleyball is hugely popular all over the world and anyone who plays the game knows that it takes incredible skill and talent to succeed, whether it is on the indoor court or on the beach.
When the Olympics come around, even the online betting sites get involved, as the sport is easy to follow and to get excited about. Those with a little more knowledge of the game will have their own favorites – but we’ve put together a list of five of the greatest ever volleyball players in the men’s game. Read on to find out whether you agree with our picks.
Lorenzo Bernardi, Italy
These days he may be better known as a coach, but older volleyball fans will recognize Lorenzo Bernardi as one of the greatest ever to play the game. He was so good that the FIVB declared him to be the Volleyball Player of the Century in 2001 alongside Karch Kiraly (another on our list).
He was most successful with the Sisley Treviso team during his career but he was also able to propel the Italian national team to glory as well. He won two World Championships and one World Cup, as well as claiming a silver medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
There is no doubt that Gilberto Amauri de Godoy Filho – better known simply as Giba – has earned his place on our list of the greatest. Although he was not the tallest of players, his physical skills and jumping abilities made him a firm fans’ favorite and a true volleyball star.
He played all over the world but he is perhaps best known for his time with the Brazilian national team. His obvious leadership skills made Brazil almost unbeatable in the 2000s and he led the team to World League triumphs eight times, three World Championships in a row, and gold at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
Sergio Dutra Santos, Brazil
Another Brazilian on our list is Serginho, who played alongside Giba for much of the 2000s, winning title after title – and then carried on after the outside hitter’s international retirement. Serginho was more of a defensive player and is considered one of the best liberos ever.
His service reception was just incredible, as were his digging abilities. He won just about everything going in the game on the international stage but originally retired after the 2012 Olympics after winning only silver. He was convinced to try one more time at the Rio Olympiad and inspired a famous victory to the acclaim of the home fans.
Karch Kiraly, USA
Growing up in California, Karch Kiraly was playing volleyball on the beach almost as soon as he could walk thanks to his father who had been a junior player in his native Hungary before fleeing to the US in the 1950s. Kiraly went on to play volleyball in college before joining the US national team in 1981.
As an expert outside hitter, Kiraly was a major reason why the US won gold at the 1984 Olympics in his home state – and then repeated that feat four years later in Seoul. After retiring from the team, he then achieved legendary status by winning another gold when beach volleyball was introduced to the Games in 1996.
Tomas Wojtowicz, Poland
Now known as a broadcaster and commentator, Tomas Wojtowicz led the Poland national team to Olympic gold at the 1976 games in Montreal, just two years after winning the FIVB World Championship in Mexico.
It is universally agreed that neither of those Polish success stories would have been possible without Wojtowicz. He was one of the first to attack from the back row and enjoyed a playing career that lasted over 20 years.