Marco Liefke, the 207cm German giant, has come along way in the past six months. Since having a heart operation he is now apart of a national German line up that is preparing to take on World Champions Brazil in Berlin this weekend in Week 5 of the World League Intercontinental Rounds.
A remarkable recovery from December when an irregular heartbeat forced the 28-year-old under the knife and now the only evidence of Leifke's heart operation are five tiny scars that he can barely find himself.
"Some how it seems to me that those years are already behind me," he said. "Maybe now that the problem is completely gone I can really play freely and maybe even extend myself a little bit. Before my health problems were always on my mind," Liefke said.
It was barely after he had finished his convalesce that Liefke led his club team SCC Berlin to victory in the German Volleyball Championship. In all of the three final matches Liefke was an outstanding player on the court. "I have always managed to take the right decision at the right moment and I never want to play against myself, that would be rather depressing."
Certainly the players of the world champions Brazil will not scare him on Saturday or Sunday (each day at 14:00GMT), when Germany has them as guests in Berlin's Max-Schmeling-Halle.
For German coach Stelian Moculescu the World League represents the perfect preparation for the European championships from September 5-14 in Karlsruhe, Leipzig and Berlin. In the duel with Brazil and Italy the German players should be able to celebrate an occasional set win but above all they should learn. When they play Portugal they should win.
"This business about learning and winning sets has lasted rather a long time, in fact it's rather time that we should also starting winning matches, said Liefke following the two 1-3 defeats against three-time world champion Italy last weekend in Munich. He added "we need a successful experience, you can't gain any long term self confidence just by talking."
When Germany played Brazil away they lost 0-3 and 1-3. In Portugal they had a part success, 3-2 and 1-3.