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11. 09. 2017

Mikhailov for WoV: “I don't treat myself as the best player of European Championship”

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The Russian Men’s Volleyball National Team should never be underestimated, despite the fact they were far from winning a medal at all major tournaments in the last two years. Because, when such a big volleyball nation, who has one of the strongest national championships in the world, lays low for a while it is only a matter of time when it will explode and show its lavish talent. The same claim goes for the players who compete with this national team… like Maksim Mikhailov.


A 29-year-old opposite Mikhailov may have merged into mediocrity of the whole team of “Zbornaya” in the last two years despite being one of the most outstanding players of his club Zenit Kazan during the same period, but he emerged from it in the 2017 CEV European Championship in Poland, pushing all the other players to do their best. It all resulted in the gold medal for Russia and Most Valuable Player award for Mikhailov.

As you could assume, great players never highlight themselves at the expense of the rest of the team despite being named MVP. One-time Olympic Games winner and a two-time FIVB World League and EuroVolley gold medalists each is no exception…

“I’m not treating myself as the best player because our team made much more than me for our victory,” Mikhailov instantly said in an exclusive interview for our website.

What is your view of Russia’s road to the gold medal in the tournament?

“The preparation period was quite long so we deserved to win the gold medal in this tournament. The final became a quite tough mission for us as we couldn’t ‘find’ our style of playing. The Germans proved that they did not reach the final by accident. They performed at the high level and made us a bit nervous, but we managed to overcome that.”


What was the key to success of the Russian National Team in the tournament?

“We believed in our victory and fought for every single ball. We created a special atmosphere inside the team and it became a determinative factor for our success. To play in this team is a great pleasure. I admired the performance of our rookies. They are reaching a new level and I’m very glad for them. But, what I liked the most about them was their desire to win. If they continue in that way, they will become the best players in the World.”

In the last two seasons, the Russian National Team failed to win medals in major tournaments, even making several quite bad results. So, what do you think the problem was back then and in which elements Russia have improved ever since?

“I think we were a bit late with the ‘change of the generations’. We have many talented young players but they need time and experience. Now they gained some experience and are ready to compete in the top tournaments. I think we have a quite brilliant future.”

Let’s talk a bit about the next season on a club level. What is your point of view of the domination of Zenit in Russia, and in Europe, too?

“Many think that we have the best roster, and it’s true, but it’s not the most important aspect. The most important thing is the atmosphere which we have inside the team. We are not just the group of players spending a lot of time together, we are a family!”

Who do you see as Zenit’s main rivals in Russia, and also in the Champions League, next season?

“They are almost the same like earlier. If we are talking about the club level, they are the clubs from Italy, Poland, and Russia. And all have a chance to win because, year by year, volleyball is becoming more popular,” Mikhailov concluded for WorldofVolley.


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