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Belgium got off to a flying start at the FIVB Volleyball Men's U21 World Championship, outclassing defending champions Iran in a thrilling five-setter on the opening day of action in Pool C. Team captain and middle blocker Wout D’Heer shined, and also led his team in the next two matches. The young Red Dragons won both, raising expectations for the next stages of the competition.

“It is really nice playing in Sardinia! It is a world-famous island, it is beautiful, altough we don't get to see much because of the bubble. But this is fine, because our focus is on the competition. We came to the World Championship to win, and we are happy to have performed well in the first stage of the tournament,” Wout told Volleyball World.

The captain of Belgium acknowledged that before the start of the competition, he and his teammates weren't expecting to create a surprise on the opening day in Carbonia. “We never thought that we could beat Iran, because they are a really strong team. We were happy, and we also went at full speed against Argentina.”

While inspiring and motivating his teammates at the FIVB Men’s U21 World Championship, Wout has a lot to dream of outside this competition, too. From this season on, D’Heer will be playing for Trentino Itas. The team’s head coach, Angelo Lorenzetti chose Wout after seeing the middle blocker's talent in previous age category competitions.

“To be honest, I was really surprised when they called me to join Trentino! I am very happy to be part of this top club, they have a great history. It is a real honour for me to be playing for them. I will meet, train and play side by side with many new rising stars, like Daniele Lavia and Alessandro Michieletto, who showed their great talent just a week ago, winning Euro Volley 2021 with the senior national team.”

Wout is confident that with Alessandro Michieletto on the roster, Trentino can achieve a lot on the European volleyball stage. But first, the teammates to be will lock horns in the second phase of the U21 World Championship, where they will fight for a spot in the semis.

Wout D'Heer in the match against Czechia

Wout D'Heer in the match against Czechia

“We already met with Alessandro. We played a friendly game in Mantua with the national team. He is a good guy, I have a lot of respect for him. He has made important steps in his development as a professional, playing in Trentino, and I hope to be able to do the same. As for the Belgium - Italy match, I think that when we meet each other in the game as opponents, it will be difficult, but with no hard feelings. Italy are the big favourites in this tournament.”

D’Heer is just starting to learn Italian. He hopes he will soon be able to communicate with one of his volleyball idols.

“I feel privileged because this season I will have a chance to play next to my idol, Srecko Lisinac. I like him a lot, I think he is a very good player, someone to look up to.”