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The fiery, charismatic mastermind Vital Heinen may be coming to Korea again.

The Chinese Volleyball Association has named Vital Heinen as the new head coach of the national men’s volleyball team. “In order to improve the competitiveness of the Chinese national men’s volleyball team and prepare for a new training cycle, the Chinese Volleyball Association has decided to appoint Belgian Vital Heinen as the head coach of the Chinese national men’s volleyball team after an evaluation by a group of experts,” the organization announced on its official website and social media on Friday.

The 1969-born setter began his coaching career in 2005 with Nolico Maschke in the Belgian League, taking over as head coach in his second year in 2006 and leading the team until 2012. From then until 2016, Heinen coached the German national men’s volleyball team while also holding club coaching positions at 스포츠토토 Ziratbankasi (Turkuye, 2012-2013), Bydgoszcz (Poland, 2013-2015), and Tours (France, 2015-2016).

Heinen’s career continued to flourish afterward. In 2017, he became the head coach of the Belgian national team, and from 2018 to 2021, he was the head coach of the Polish national team, one of the strongest teams in men’s volleyball. Along the way, he also coached Friedrichshafen (Germany) from 2016 to 2019 and Perugia (Italy) from 2019 to 2021.

Heinen’s achievements in men’s volleyball over the past 15 years have been immense. As a national team coach, he won the FIVB World Championship (Poland 2018) and runner-up (Germany 2014), finished runner-up in the FIVB Volleyball Nations League (VNL) (Poland 2021), and won the European Games (Germany 2015), while as a club coach, he won the Italian Superliga runner-up (Perugia 2020-21), won four Belgian league titles, won five Belgian Cups, and finished third in the CEV Champions League (Perugia 2020-21).

In 2022, Heinen took on a new challenge. He was named head coach of the German national women’s volleyball team, while simultaneously taking over as head coach of Nürüper in the Turkee Ligue Nürüper. Known for his fiery personality and charisma during his time with the men’s national team, Heinen has been able to adapt to the German women’s national team while maintaining his personality, even taking part in the trademark German women’s national team dance routine during player introductions.

However, Heinen recently stepped down as head coach of both the Nürüfer and the German national teams, and at the end of last year, it appeared that a return to men’s volleyball was imminent, with reports suggesting that he was close to taking over the Iranian national team. However, Heinen’s decision was pushed back a little further when Mauricio Paes, who will be the head coach of Urikhad next season, was named head coach of the Iranian national team, and his final destination was the Chinese men’s national team.

Heinen was previously in Korea as head coach of the German women’s national volleyball team in June 2023 for the third week of the 2023 VNL Women’s Division at the Chilbo Gymnasium in Suwon. With China’s participation in the upcoming 2024 Korea Cup International Men’s Volleyball Tournament at the Jecheon Indoor Stadium in July, it is possible that the master coach will make another trip to Korea in a year’s time.

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