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10 Best Volleyball Players of All Time (Giba, Giani, Bernardi, Etc.)

Nowadays, there are lots of great volleyball players. But can they even compare to the best players in history? For sure some players are exceptional and soon they might be on this list. Who are they going to join? Today, we’re going to meet the best volleyball players ever.

Who are the best volleyball players in the history?

Player Nationality
1. GibaBrazil
2. Karch KiralyUSA
3. Lorenzo BernardiItaly
4. Sergio Dutra SantosBrazil
5. Ivan MilijkovicSerbia
6. Dante AmaralBrazil
7. Vyacheslav ZaytsevRussia
8. Andrea GianiItaly
9. Tomasz WójtowiczPoland
10. Valerio VermiglioItaly

1. Giba

Nationality: Brazil
Born: 23 December 1976
Height: 190 cm (6.23 ft)

Giba is a volleyball legend. I don’t know any friend of mine who’s interested in volleyball who wouldn’t recognize this Brazilian outside hitter. He was great, but it’s an understatement. I’m sure if you’ve seen him play, you agree that he was a beast.

With him in the team, Brazil has been great like never before. He helped the Canarinhos to win the Olympic Games in 2004, the World Championship 3 times in a row from 2002 to 2010, the World League 8 times, and a couple of other competitions. Of course, I don’t have to mention his dozens of individual awards, including the most important ones like the MVP of the Olympic Games in 2004 and the MVP of the World Championship in 2006. I think Brazil with Giba had been the best national team of the 21st century so far. Of course, volleyball is a team game, and he was lucky to play with the best generation of Brazilian players, in which Giba was the best of them.

Gilberto Amauri de Godoy Filho is also known as Giba is the best volleyball player not only according to our website but by Fox Sport that called him in 2015 Best men’s Volleyball player of all Time. He ended his career in 2019 at the age of 42 in the team IBB Polonia London.

2. Karch Kiraly

Nationality: USA
Born: 3 November 1960
Height: 188 cm (6.17 ft)

Karch Kiraly is one of the best volleyball players in the world. You can argue whether he was better than Giba or not. We will probably never know it. What we know is he was the best volleyball player of the 20th century.

He led U.S National Team to the gold medal at the 1984 Summer Olympics. He was a great defender and an even better outside hitter. Along with teammates Aldis Berzins and Dusty Dvorak they were the foundation of the team. In the 1988 Summer Olympics the U.S team won its second Olympic gold medal, defeating the USSR in the championship match. He won the third Olympic gold medal in Atlanta in 1996. Kiraly had a long career on the professional beach circuit, and with 148 career wins is the ‘winningest’ player in the sport’s history. He won at least one tournament in 24 of the 28 seasons he played in a career that spanned four decades. 

The FIVB has chosen him FIVB Best Player of the 20th Century and it’s 100% deserved. There wasn’t any other successful player in 2 disciplines- indoor volleyball and beach volleyball. He’s also successful as a coach of the US National Women’s Volleyball team. During the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Kiraly led the US women to a bronze medal, becoming the fourth player to win medals as a player and coach.

3. Lorenzo Bernardi

Nationality: Italy
Born: 11 August 1968
Height: 199 cm (6.53 ft)

Younger volleyball fans might recognize him from being a volleyball coach. Indeed, he’s a great coach, but not everyone knows that he was even a better player.

The Italian outside hitter is the legend of some clubs like Sisley Treviso where he had played for 12 years. It was a fruitful time for Bernardi, who won 16 titles. Overall, with all his clubs, he won 26 titles. Most people associate Lorenzo Bernardi with the Italian National team. He won the World Championship in 1990 and 1994, the World Cup in 1995, the European Champions League twice, and the World League 5 times. His achievements are impressive. He was elected the best player of the 1994 World Championship and 1995 European Championship, and in 2001, the FIVB declared him to be the “Volleyball Player of the Century” with Karch Kiraly.

After ending his career, he decided to become a coach and expand his number of awards. His beginnings were hard, but since 2012, he has won 14 medals, including 10 gold ones.

Read it: Who is the Best Volleyball Player in 2020? (Best Players Ranking)

4. Sergio Dutra Santos

Nationality: Brazil
Born: 15 October 1975
Height: 184 cm (6.04 ft)

Sérgio Dutra Santos also known as Sergio is one of the best liberos in the history of volleyball. He’s another player of the gold generation that won dozens of competitions at the beginning of the 21st century.

Sergio was one of the leading players back then. His predictions and athletic abilities were his biggest powers. He spent most of his career for Brazilian clubs with some successes, but those awards are nothing compared to his achievements with the National team. 24 gold, 7 silver, and 2 bronze medals through 15 years of appearances for Brazil are impressive. On average, it’s more than 2 medals per year! Brazil was exceptional in the World League, having won 7 gold medals and of course, they dominated in the South American Championship with the same amount of victories. You can tell how good Sergio was, looking at his individual awards. In total, he won 39 awards of the best libero, the best digger, or the MVP. That’s crazy

Hands down, it’s the best libero of all time. He quit the National Team at the right moment, but he’s still active when it comes to playing in clubs.

5. Ivan Milijkovic

Nationality: Serbia
Born: 13 September 1979
Height: 206 cm (6.76 ft)

Some may argue that the best Serbian volleyball player is Nikola Grbić. He was great, but Milijkovic, his skills and accomplishments are noteworthy.

For years Milijkovic was the best Serbian player. He led them to many victories. The most important one is a gold medal at the Olympic Games in 2000 (with FR Yugoslavia), but Ivan was barely 20 back then, and he wasn’t the leading player. But he didn’t have to wait for another success, because one year later, Serbia and Montenegro won the European Championship. Even though Ivan Milijkovic was one of the best players ever, he has only 11 gold medals with the national team and clubs. He owns more individual awards. Overall, he has 30 awards. It’s worth to mention that Milijkovic set a record of earning 37 points in one match in the 2002 and 2005 FIVB World League.

Ivan Milijkovic has already retired, but we will remember him as being the best in almost every tournament he was taking part in.

6. Dante Amaral

Nationality: Brazil
Born: 30 September 1980
Height: 201 cm (6.59 ft)

Dante is another Brazilian player in this ranking. He was lucky to be part of the galactic Brazilian volleyball team that was simply the best in the world.

He started his professional career at the age of 19 in the club Três Corações. Since that time has he played for another 11 clubs. As one of a few Brazilian players, he played in the best European clubs like Dinamo Moscow or Modena Volley. In 1999, he debuted in the Brazilian National team. He was the best spiker of the Olympic Games in 2004 and the World Championship in 2004. Amaral was viewed as a perfect outside spiker with great spike and power.

He ended his career in 2018.

Read it: Top 7 Tallest Volleyball Players in the World. It’s not Musersky…

7. Vyacheslav Zaytsev

Nationality: Russia
Born: 12 January 1952
Height: 191 cm (6.27 ft)

Not everyone knows, but Ivan Zaystev’s father was one of the best volleyball players of all time. Right now we know who Ivan inherited his talent after.

Unlike Iva, Vyacheslav represented the Soviet Union team. Overall, he won 14 gold and 6 silver medals. He was a major player to help Soviet Union men’s national volleyball team to dominate the World in the late 1970s to early 1980s. Zaytsev played for Avtomobilist Leningrad (now Spartak St. Petersburg), with which he won two CEV Top Teams Cup and two Challenge Cups in 1982–1983. He finished his career in Italy, playing in Spoleto, Agrigento, and Città di Castello.

8. Andrea Giani

Nationality: Italy
Born: 22 April 1970
Height: 196 cm (6.43 ft)

Italian players can’t live without volleyball. After they retire, they are still present in the volleyball environment. Andrea Giani is another great player who became a coach.

With Italy, Giani has many successes. He was the one who won the World Championship 3 times in a row during his career. Overall, he won 16 gold medals. He was an all-rounder able to play both as an outside hitter and as a middle blocker, but he played several times as opposite too. Is he even better player? Probably. In 2010, he won Costa-Anderlini Award for Best Coach of the Year Italy – Serie A2. After coaching 3 clubs, he was the coach of the Slovenian National Team and now he’s the coach of Germany.

9. Tomasz Wójtowicz

Nationality: Poland
Born: 22 September 1953
Height: 197 cm (6.46 ft)

Wójtowicz is still one of the best Polish and world volleyball players. With the Polish National Team, he won the Olympic Games in 1976 and the World Championship in 1974. Those achievements of the Polish team wouldn’t be possible without him. He was the leading player. Tomasz Wójtowicz was nominated to the best “8” volleyballers in the world and the American volleyball gallery – the Volleyball Hall of Fame. He’s having an interesting life after volleyball. He used to play in a movie, he was a politician, had a restaurant, and comments volleyball games.

Read it: 10 Best Men’s Volleyball Teams in 2020 (Clubs)

10. Valerio Vermiglio

Nationality: Italy
Born: 1 March 1976
Height: 190 cm (6.23 ft)

It’s not that easy to appreciate a setter’s game. He doesn’t score lots of points. But we can’t miss Valerio Vermiglio who was probably the best setter in volleyball. Compared to other players on this list , he is more titled with his clubs than with the National team. He played for 15 clubs and has over 30 trophies. With Italy, he has 8 medals, including 3 gold in the European Championship and the World League. Vermiglio has a couple of individual awards like the best setter of the Champions League. We particularly like his smoothness and precision.

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