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Joao Miguel Jose - Late starter in the middle block

With more than 180 international matches Joao Jose is the figurehead of Portugal’s national team. The 33-year-old middle blocker, who started to play volleyball at the age of 16, wants to throw in all the experience he gained with the German club VfB Friedrichshafen to help Portugal perform well in the EuroVolley 2011 in Austria and the Czech Republic.

For a long time volleyball did not play a role in Joao Jose’s life. He was born in Portimao and only at the age of 16 a friend persuaded him “to experiment” – eventually he started his career in 1994 and joined Che-Lagoense the club of his hometown. In the following years he changed clubs several times within Portugal.

The 2002 World Championship in Argentina was a major turning point for him. With his impressive jumping ability Joao Jose was named best blocker of the tournament which raised the interest in him on an international level. “It was a surprise”, he remembers today. “During the first half of my career things just happened to me.”

In fact, the things that then happened to him were to have a decisive effect on his future life: in 2004 he joined the German model club Friedrichshafen and soon became one of the stabilizing figures in the team. “We were really lucky to get Joao”, says Friedrichshafen coach Stelian Moculescu, “if he were ten centimetres taller he would have been far too expensive for us and thus would not be playing for us today.”

Even though Joao Jose gets the short end of the stick in the comparison with other middleblockers who are more than 2m tall, he does not have to fear the comparison with them: he can compensate the lack in height with his enormous jumping ability and his excellent technical skills. And his successes prove him right: he won the German title seven consecutive times, seized the German cup four times and celebrated the victory in the CEV Champions League in 2007 with his team Friedrichshafen. By now he does not only wear the captain’s armband in the Portuguese national team but also in his German club. No wonder that his contract recently has been renewed until 2013.

In his home country the married father of a four year old enjoys a lot of respect. In 2007 Portugal’s sports journalists voted him “International Athlete of the Year”, an award which he shared with another, not really unknown colleague: football star Cristiano Ronaldo.