|The first success of the Italian National team was the bronze medal won at the European Championships in 1948, but it was only in the early seventies, after the gold medal at the World University Games in Turin, that Italy remained steadily at the top of world scenery, attending continuously the Olympic Games from 1976 onwards.
In 1978 Italy was the host country of the World Championships and the six-Italian squad, led by Carmelo Pittera, did conquer the silver medal. In 1984 the Italian team climbed for the second time on the podium of a great international event, winning the bronze medal at the Los Angeles Olympics, when Silvano Prandi was the coach of the Italian boys, while in 1985 those who were to become the stars of the nineties gave a preview of their successes by securing the silver medal at the Junior World Championships organised in Italy.
In 1989, with Julio Velasco chosen as the leader of the "azzurri" team, Italy started the conquest of a long series of victories: in that year the first European title was secured in Stockholm while they were ranked second in the World Cup in Japan. 1990 was the year of the first title of World Champion, won in Brazil after defeating Cuba in the final, but it was also the year of the first success in the World League and of the gold at the goodwill Games; in 1991 Italy won its second World League title and was second behind Russia at the European Championships in Berlin.
In 1992 came a third World Leaguesuccess, after the disappointment at the Olympics in Barcelona. In 1993 another series of uninterrupted triumphs took started for Italy. The Velasco boys conquered again the European title in Finland, prevailed in the first edition of the World Grand Champions Cup and took their run-up in view of the real triumph of 1994 when the Italian sextet doubled its World success, defeating the Netherlands in the final in Athens, while winning the World League title for the fourth time and crowning its Roll of Honours prevailing at the World Super Four event.
Again a gold medal went to the "azzurri" at the 1995 edition of the World League. In Rio de Janeiro the "azzurri" team - on the court with a very young crew including may new athletes - beat the Brazil in the final, in spite of the fact that they had to play against a team supported by no less than 25'000 fans. In September, Gardini & Co. won for the third time the European Championships in Athens and in December they increased the number of victories in their Roll of Honours by winning the World Cup, prevailing in the whole of their 11 matches, apart from the conquest of the victory in the Centennial Match versus the World All Stars team.
The Velasco's era ended in 1996. The Italian national team did not reach the Olympic gold medal and during the final of the Atlanta Games, surrendered to the Dutch in the tie break. The Italian team took the second place in World League and the first place in the FIVB World Super Six. Even led by Brazilian Bebeto, the Italian team still played a major role in the 1997 international Volleyball scenery: it conquered the World League title in Moscow, and obtained the bronze medal at the European Championships in Eindhoven. In the 1998 it was 4th in the World League in Milan and won, for the third time, the World Championship in Japan.
In the beginning of 1999, new changes occurred with the arrival of Andrea Anastasi. The debut of the Italian trainer was immediately winning. In Mar del Plata Italy conquered the World League for the 7th time. In Vienna, Italy, defeating Russia, won its fourth title of European Champion and in Tokyo, in the World Cups, conquered the bronze medal and qualified for the Olympic Games. At the 2000 edition of the World League, Italy won its 8th gold medal, defeating Russia. And in the Olympic Games it won the bronze medal. 2001 saw two silver medals for the "azzurri", in the World League and the European Championship. In the 2002 World Championships it finished 5th, and 4th in the World League. 2003 started with the appointment of a new coach, Gianpaolo Montali, and the team took the 3rd place in the World League, the gold medal in the European Championship and the 2nd place in the World Cups. In 2004, Italy won the silver medal in the World League and in the Olympic Games. In 2005 it won the gold medal in the European Championship.
His career is full of victories:
- in Parma he won 1 Italian Championship’s title, one Champion’s League title, 3 Continental Cups, 2 Italian Cups;
- with Sisley Treviso he won 2 Italian Championships, 1 Champion’s League, ! Continental Cup, 1 Cev Cup, 1 Italian Cup.
- In 1997 he won the Greek Championship with Olympiakos Pireo.
- Back to Italy he won the 2000 Italian Championship and the 2001 Cev Cup.
He also has experience as coach of the Greek National team.
Since May 2003 he is the coach of the Italian Men’s team, with which he won 2 European Championships (2003 and 2005), the silver medal in the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, the silver medal in the 2004 World League and the bronze in the 2003 World League.
Gianpaolo Montali was born in Parma on January 18, 1960. He is married and has a child.