March 22, 2023

It is generally agreed that Sergio Dutra Santos, better known by his nickname Serginho, is the best libero in the history of volleyball.

He is also the only athlete playing in this position to have been named the Most Valuable Player at both an Olympic Games volleyball tournament and a FIVB Volleyball World League tournament. Sergio, who is 46 years old and the only man to have competed in four consecutive Olympic volleyball finals, has been appointed as a member of the FIVB Athletes’ Commission. Sergio will retire as a professional player in the year 2020, but he has stated that he will continue to be involved with the sport in some capacity.

Sergio began his professional career as a volleyball player in 1992, competing for the team of Palmeiras. He was born on October 15, 1975, in the city of Diamante do Norte, which is located just outside of the state of Sao Paulo in Brazil.

In 2001, he began an incredible journey while wearing the shirt of the Brazilian national team. After only one year together, the team was victorious in all three of the main tournaments in which they participated: the World League, the South American Championship, and the America’s Cup.

The next year, Sergio won his first medal at the FIVB Volleyball World Championships. His medal was for the bronze medal. In Argentina, he and his teammates were victorious and took home the championship. In 2003, they triumphed at the FIVB Volleyball World Cup, and four years later, at the Olympic Games held in Athens, they were crowned Olympic champions.

Sergio was a member of Brazil’s national team for a total of 16 years, during which time he accumulated an impressive number of medals and trophies. He is the only male volleyball player in the history of the sport to have ever participated in four consecutive Olympic finals, during which he won two gold medals (in 2004 and 2016) and two silver medals (2008 and 2012).

He won two titles at the World Championship in 2002 and 2006, two titles at the World Cup in 2003 and 2007 and a bronze medal in 2011, two titles at the FIVB Volleyball World Grand Champions Cup in 2005 and 2009, as well as as many as seven World League titles in addition to three silver medals in the competition.

He also had a successful run at the South American Championships, where he competed seven times and came away with seven gold medals—an impressive haul considering the number of times he competed. In addition, Sergio has in his possession both a gold and a bronze medal from the Pan American Games.

The majority of Sergio’s club career was spent competing for teams from his home country of Brazil. He won a number of medals in events held within Brazil, the most notable of which was the national championship in 2011 with SESI Sao Paulo. The tall libero, who stood 1.84 meters tall, represented Italy’s Copra Piacenza during the four years between 2004 and 2008, during which time the team won the CEV Cup trophy, took silver in the CEV Champions League, and made four national podiums, including two silvers and a bronze in the SuperLega and a silver in the Coppa Italia. In addition, the team won the CEV Cup trophy.

During the course of his athletic career, Sergio Santos won several individual accolades on multiple occasions. It is unusual for a libero to be honored as the Most Valuable Player of a competition; however, despite receiving numerous nominations for Best Libero, Best Digger, and Best Receiver, he was selected for the MVP honors at major international competitions as many as four times: twice at the South American Championships, once at the 2009 World League, and, most importantly, at the Olympic Games Rio 2016, which took place not long after Sergio said his final goodbye to the Brazilian national team.

This farewell took place in the beginning of September 2016, during a friendly match between Brazil and Portugal, at the Atletico Paranaense Stadium in Curitiba, which is located in Sergio’s home state of Parana. There, more than 30,000 people praised him. The libero was given the symbolic opportunity to personally score the last point directly from the serving line as an emotional gesture of respect for his illustrious career. This allowed the libero to personally score the final point.

After playing competitive club volleyball for an additional four seasons, he eventually called it quits in May 2020, at the age of 44, as a member of Pacaembu/Volei Ribeirao Preto. His retirement came shortly after the season was prematurely stopped due to the coronavirus epidemic.

Sergio was honored with induction into the International Volleyball Hall of Fame in the year 2021.

Sergio Santos has been elected to serve on the FIVB Athletes’ Commission beginning in the year 2022.

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