Matteo Piano has played with Italy's men's team since 2013
Hiroshima, Japan, October 11, 2019 – Matteo Piano tries to learn a new word of Japanese for each day of his stay in Japan during the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Cup.
The 28-year-old middle blocker from Asti joined coach Gianlorenzo Blengini's young roster of players as the team captain. “I’ve chosen to be here with all these young players because I love to have young people in our team,” he told fivb.com.
“In the last year, I became the captain of Milan (Powervolley Milano) and I had to change. I had to stop finding that shoulder to lean on, I now have to be the shoulder that the other players can lean on,” he added.
“I realised last summer in the national team that I want to do this. I want to help and I have to give back to others what I’ve learned in this volleyball life.
“This is one of the many ways I can help to make the sport better. Of course, in sport, there is no one single way to help.”
Piano’s second appearance in the World Cup means a lot in his volleyball life, and he reached 150 caps during the first round of the competition in Fukuoka.
After Thursday’s 3-0 win over Australia at the Green Arena, he talked about ‘zenshin’ which refers to progress in Japanese. In a separate interview, he also talked about how his mindset as a volleyball player and as a person has evolved.
“I’m happy with how I’ve grown up because I began a long, long time ago.
My first World Cup was successful because we got the ticket to Rio.
“Italy is an amazing country, and we take pride in our sport. We have a great tradition in this sport."
Italy celebrate the 2015 World Cup silver medal that booked their ticket to Rio 2016
“When we qualified for Rio, it was great. Italy qualified at an early stage. In Rio, we took the silver medal. Then when I was in Modena, it was great to be with one of the best clubs in the world.
“There are a lot of things that I did not choose to happen. But what I can choose is how I want to experience these things.”
Team Italy on court at Hiroshima’s Green Arena
“I’m in a moment in my life where I’m so free. I’m free with my emotions. I’m free to show my feelings. I feel this way. And I think, maybe in sports, it’s not always this way.
“You have a jersey, a uniform you can wear. All of us in fact, we have one uniform in our profession. And that defines you. But also aside from the uniform, you have your own self, your own identity. You can always give your heart and your mind to also help define the uniform.”
Matteo Piano gets ready to defend
Matteo Piano has decided to share more of his sentiments in a book.
'Io, Il centrale e I Pensieri Laterali' will be released on his birthday, the 24th of October, as a gift that he wants to share with the world.
“I first thought about writing the book in 2015 when I was here in Japan. It was right before our last match against Poland, where we confirmed our slot for Rio. I called my sport psychologist, and I said, we have to write about our job."
Matteo Piano in the middle
“I had a lot of challenges, and encountered a lot of difficulties. I thought it would be good to share those with the people, to tell them how it is. It’s not a life that’s always bright and shiny. Maybe it could be, if you’re lucky. But this is real life and there are many things that are equally important. Now in 2019, a lot of things have changed, and I wanted to write about this.
“I’m not the best writer, but I hope this book can be useful for someone, and it’s another way I can help the sport," he said.
Piano spends time with his fans in Japan
The Italian elaborated on how he chose the title for his book.
“I have to keep focused and stay in the middle, but I have to be ready and flexible enough to reach out to the sides,” he said.