Joël Despaigne

“FAIR PLAY” Category

Joël Despaigne is undoubtedly one of the best volleyball players of the last century. With 350 appearances on the national team and the Gold medal at the World Cup in 1989, the champion of Santiago helped to make the volleyball of his land be part of history.

And in volleyball he is an absolute protagonist and not only for his team Cuba, which has honoured him with total joy, repaying him with all those recognitions that a world, once divided in two, could and should have recognized him.

On the field he was terrific in the services and for the serves he made from stratospheric heights, thus earning, for his uniqueness, the nickname of "El Diablo".

Outside the field, in everyday life he often remembers that "volleyball did not enrich me, but it gave me the opportunity to compare myself with the best in the world".

And in 1990 the international federation has recognized him as the best in the world. Italy has a special place in his life, in addition to the memory of an unforgettable match Cuba-Italy where, however, its uniqueness will not be enough to stop the race of the Azzurri to the world title. Then, a career that was being written had to end, just in Italy, due to injury.

Volleyball is his life anyway and still today there is a strange light in his eyes when "El Diablo" says to the boys: "let's go play, but first have fun".

Wherever you love volleyball you'll always be the welcome man of the "Grande Isla" or rather, the big-hearted devil…


Written by Giovanni Melani


Top -level sportsmen and women have a responsibility that goes above and beyond honouring their team, their sport or the nation they represent.
They are the personification of the very spirit and essence of sport.

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