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Frank Depestele - Belgium’s Alpha Male

With Frank Depestele Belgium’s national team has one of the best setters in the CEV Champions League in their ranks. The upcoming EuroVolley 2011 will be the second European Championship for the 33-year-old. In 2007 Belgium finished tenth and Depestele wants to throw in all his experience for the underdog team to top this result. The list of his titles is long: two-times Belgium champion, Greek champion, several times winner of national cup competitions, contracts with top teams like Panathinaikos Athens or Lokomotive Belgorod – without any doubt Frank Depestele is the leading force of the Belgian team who hope to be successful in pool C against Italy, France and Finland.

Depestele-artDepestele has never been insecure about his role as alpha male in the team: “I always wanted to be the leading force”, explains the West-Fleming who started his career in his hometown Lennik. Until the age of 14 he also played football but abandoned this sport in favour of volleyball. At the age of 17 he already played in the first team of the first-league club.


One of his mentors was the later Vienna hotVolleys coach Georg Strumilo. And it was Strumilo who made Depestele move to Switzerland in 1998 to play for Näfels. Together Strumilo and Depestele won the Swiss title and the cup. “When I looked out of the window I saw cows with large bells around their necks“, Depestele remembers the time of his first contract abroad, which he did not only use “to become truly independent” but also to arouse the interest of bigger clubs.

In 2002 he moved back to Belgium and joined the ranks of Roeselare where he developed into an absolute top player over four seasons. With the Belgian club he won several titles and gained experience also in the Champions League. Finally, he decided to go to Iraklis Thessaloniki where he also was successful in 2007: besides surprisingly winning the national title, Depestele was also voted best playmaker and most valuable player.

The fanatic Greek fans definitively left their mark: “After the end of the match I was suddenly standing there only wearing my underwear.” After a moderately successful stopover in Belgorod he returned to Greece in 2008. However, he never won a title with Panathinaikos Athens – it was Belgorod of all teams who became the stumbling block for the Greek team in the final of the CEV cup competition.

Eventually, a mix of homesickness and the perspective to become the alpha player in Belgium led Depestele to return to Roeselaare in 2009. With his young teammates he won the national championship in 2010 and defeated Austria’s champion Hypo Tirol in the pool phase of last season’s CEV Champions League.


After so many years the father of two still lives volleyball 24/7: “There is not much time left for anything else.” Even though he says he can see himself working as coach sometime in the future, he does not think about the end of his career as player yet. “My ultimate dream has always been to play in Italy“, he once said. And it seems that his wish might come true: for quite some time Depestele has been linked to Italy’s top club Treviso.