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Italy's Birarelli keen to show hard work pays off

As captain of Italian volleyball club Trentino and with 154 appearances in six seasons with the national team, Birrarelli was a logical choice for the job.

Lausanne, Switzerland, November 15, 2013 – The Italian men’s national team leave Rome on Friday for the FIVB Men’s World Champions Cup in Japan with a new captain at the helm in Emanuele Birarelli.

Birarelli (or ‘Bira’ as he is known to his teammates) takes over the captain duties from Cristian Savani who will not be playing in the tournament on account of injury.

“Honestly, I'm very happy and I hope that I am capable of fulfilling the role of national team captain, well," said Bira. "It is a doubt that I have confided to my wife. I will definitely try to put myself at the service of the team by keeping in mind the good of the group and to understand the needs of the younger players just as was done for me when I first started.”

However, Birarelli’s worries are overshadowed by his reputation for being the workaholic of Italian volleyball.  “Thank goodness I got married last summer and unplugged at least a little,” joked Bira. 

“I do not know if the term ‘workaholic’ is a fair description, but I know that it is certainly the reason why Italy has performed well at club and international level events recently.

“This is a source of pride, although it is not always easy to be on top form. I will give my maximum contribution in Japan at the World Grand Champions Cup as we can expect a high level tournament as we get set to face some of the best teams the world right now.”

The competition will be stiff for Italy especially as it’s missing other key players like Simone Parodi who was forced to sit out the tournament also due to injury.

And the workaholic of Italian volleyball does not look like he’s ready to give up his life on the volleyball court anytime soon. Unlike former teammate Gigi Mastrangelo who has embraced the challenge of hit TV show, “Dancing with the Stars”, Bira has shown no intention in following in his footsteps.

"No, I would not be able to do what Gigi is doing. I lack the desire to be on TV and perform. Gigi liked the idea of trying a different experience and when he had the opportunity to take part in the show, he devoted himself with enthusiasm and desire.”

For the moment, Italy’s captain has his sights set on taking his team far in the tournament in Japan. The team will play Russia in the opening match of the tournament as they did in the European final before taking on Iran, United States, Japan, and Brazil.

Italy won the inaugural edition of the FIVB World Grand Champions Cup in 1993 and a bronze medal in 2005. This will be Italy’s third appearance in the competition after the team received a wild-card assigned by FIVB/JVA/NTV to join four continental champions – Russia, Iran, Brazil, and USA – and hosts Japan.

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