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28/04/2017 17:00
Getting to know a star in the making – Velizar Chernokozhev
2017 CEV Volleyball Champions League - Men

Roma, Italy, April 28, 2017. Velizar Chernokozhev is one of the youngest players competing this coming weekend in the final, deciding stage of the 2017 CEV Volleyball Champions League – Men. The 212 cm tall Bulgarian opposite playing for hosts Sir Sicoma Colussi PERUGIA is just as down-to-earth as he is physically imposing.

Click here for a live picture gallery of the Final Four weekend

Velizar started playing the game at the age of 14 – and comes from a family with no Volleyball background. “My father is a former freestyle wrestler, but he stopped at a fairly young age, when he was 22 or 23, so Volleyball is not a family affair for us.” However, he definitely comes from a sportive family, as his younger brother Tsvetomir, 16, is one of the most promising basketball players back home in Bulgaria.

Chernokozhev – whose family name in Bulgarian means something like ‘black skinned’ – now stands at 212 cm but recollects he was not that tall when he started playing Volleyball. “I was something like 185 cm, but I grew bigger 5 cm a year,” he says. “However, in my early days my physical conditioning was not ideal and I was somehow slow, so I had to work hard to develop as a player, both physically and technically.”

His father, however, seemed to have found the right recipe for that: “He insisted that physically I had the right assets, so I just had to work hard to achieve something and improve. If I did not achieve my goals, it was only my fault. On top of this, my father said that someone who can make a job out of his hobby, well, that person will never work one single day in his life and now I can say he was absolutely right.”

Velizar knows very well whom he wants to look up: “Matey Kaziyski is my idol. I spent some months with him when I trained with TRENTINO a couple of years ago and I had the opportunity to know him a lot better. He truly is an outstanding person, not just a world-class Volleyball player.”

Chernokozhev currently has the opportunity to work with a living Volleyball legend, since his coach in Perugia is the “Volleyball Player of the XX Century”, Lorenzo Bernardi. “Since I was born in 1995, I did not know much about him because I am too young to recollect any of his achievements, but ever since I started working with him, I began searching for old videos – and could easily realise he truly was an outstanding player. Unfortunately, we have a very hectic schedule and very little time to practice, but I am trying to learn as much as possible from him.”

Velizar’s ultimate dream is to represent Bulgaria at the Olympics. “I started dreaming about that after Bulgaria finished fourth at the London Olympics but unfortunately we did not make it to Rio. Now Tokyo is on the horizon and I hope we can make it there. My biggest experience with the national team so far was at the European Games in 2015, where we won silver. I played the match against Italy and we won that one 3-0. If tomorrow or this weekend I have the opportunity to play before 9,000 people, my legs will not be shaking. We have spent one year together with this team and have prepared for this moment, so if that moment comes, I have to make sure I am ready to enjoy it and live it to the fullest.”

Click here for further information or visit the official website

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