Juan Diaz Mario, a Cuban
national with a track record of success that has
made him highly respected within the sport, was
brought in to take charge of the young and
talented Portuguese national team several years
ago. He has since guided them through the last two
editions of the World League. Under his command,
Portugal began to blossom and his hard work was
evident in 2002, when it was clear to all
observers that he had already stamped the
inimitable "Juan Diaz" style on the team.
However, being in charge of a team that is still
in its developmental stage can prove difficult,
even to the best of coaches, and Diaz Mario’s
charges found the going very tough in the 2003
World League having to settle for a place among
the sides at the bottom of the final standings.
Diaz, who studied physical education, started his
coaching career in 1971. The following year he
became third assistant of the Cuban national team.
From 1974, he served as Cuba's youth national team
head coach for ten years. Between 1994 and 2000 he
led Cuba's senior team to an amazing range of
successes at international competitions, winning,
among other things, the 1998 World League and the
bronze medals at the World Championship in Japan
the same year. Diaz was named by the FIVB as one
of the ten best coaches of the 20th century.