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16/10/2015 21:22
Bulgaria’s home hero Vlado Nikolov continues dreaming…
2015 CEV Volleyball European Championship - Men

Sofia, Bulgaria, October 16, 2015. Co-host Bulgaria has been having a fantastic run at the finals of the 2015 CEV Volleyball European Championship – Men. After four victories in four matches so far, the Lions are in the semi-finals and, at the very least, they will match their result from two years ago, when they finished fourth at EuroVolley 2013 in Denmark and Poland. One major difference for the team, however, is that back then Vladimir Nikolov was in the role of a team manager and now he is wearing the jersey again in the role of a team captain and a true leader, spear-heading the Bulgarian offensive line.

“After the London Olympics, I said that my time on the national team was over, but last year we had an unfortunate situation with the injuries of Tsvetan Sokolov and Boyan Yordanov.  Both opposites had to undergo shoulder surgeries and this was the main reason that the coach called me up to help the team in this urgent situation,” Vlado explains. “For me this was a great opportunity to play in front of this great audience and something that I could not miss.”

Nikolov compares the two functions he has held on the national team recently. “Maybe it would sound strange, but now it is much easier for me, because I know that many situations depend on me. When I was the team manager, I was sitting beside the court and I was not able to help the team during the match. This was so frustrating. Now it is better…”

While interviewed after each of his team’s victories in the fantastic atmosphere that the home fans create at the magnificent Arena Armeec competition hall, Vlado Nikolov has been emotionally saying that for him this is a dream come true. After the squad’s training session on Friday, he elaborates: “My dream was to play an important competition in Bulgaria, in front of this incredible crowd, which impresses me more and more every day. We hoped to reach the important stages of the tournament, to reach the semi-finals. Now we are here and this is amazing.”

But how far does his dream go? “A medal,” is his short answer. “A medal is quite important.  Of course, we pray, we hope, we dream for the gold, but any medal would be a fantastic end to this summer.”

On Saturday, Bulgaria will play against this year’s World League winner France in a direct battle for a spot in Sunday’s final. In the two teams’ last encounter, in the final of Group 2 in the World League in July, France disappointed the crowd in Varna by shutting out the home heroes.

“We had a very good strategy for the World League game against France in Varna earlier this summer, but to have a strategy is one thing, to implement it on the court is another. Back in July France played superior volleyball to all other teams and for the whole summer they lost only one game. This is not by chance; they are simply good. In tomorrow’s semi-final we will do everything possible to achieve the victory against a very strong team,” the Bulgarian captain comments.

But Vlado will continue dreaming even after EuroVolley 2015 is finished, because he has no intention of leaving the Lions’ squad any time soon, hoping to play once again at the Olympics in 2016.

“Next Friday I have a game in the French domestic league, so on Wednesday I will fly back to Lyon and on Friday I will play again,” shares his immediate plans the 38-year-old spiker. “As far as the national team, we have Olympic qualifications in January and if I am called upon by the coach, I will play.”

For more information on the 2015 CEV Volleyball European Championship - Men visit eurovolley2015.net or click here. In social media, please use the competition’s official hashtag #EuroVolleyM.

News nr. 7 of 179
16/10/2015 22:02:00
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14/10/2015 23:08:00
‘Les Bleus’ claim remake of World League final, move on to EuroVolley semis – Italy rout Russia to play ‘special derby’ with Slovenia and their mentor Giani

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