In a recent interview with VBTV, American star setter Micah Christenson described his Argentinean counterpart Luciano De Cecco by saying that “nobody can try to be Luciano De Cecco because he’s individually himself.”

Although Micah’s comments made a reference to De Cecco’s playing style, which make of him a truly unique player in the position, they also perfect summarize another intriguing facet of the Olympic medalist – his leadership.

Captaining the Argentinean national team since 2015, the 35-year-old De Cecco has been exposed to all kinds of leadership styles over his almost 20 years of professional volleyball and still, just like he does with his playmaking duties, he just opted to be himself.

“I think that when someone is a good leader, it just shows, it’s not something you can really develop if you don’t have that on you,” he told Volleyball World. “There’s a lot of different forms to lead and there’s no right or wrong. Each leader has its own way of doing things and each of them works in a different way.”

De Cecco doesn’t necessarily have the profile one would expect from a leader of a sports team. Instead of loud screams to motivate or instruct his teammates during matches, he does that with insightful and well-time whispers, delivering his message with clarity and calm.

Don’t expect to see the Argentinean star showing extreme emotions on the court either as most of the time, winning or losing, he’ll keep his trademark poker face. With De Cecco, leadership is expressed by his presence and by setting an example with actions, especially when dealing with younger players.

“My focus is always on giving my best to help the younger players grow, but in a way that at the same time, we manage to win matches,” the Argentinean reflected. “With time, every player ends up following the path they think is best for their careers and continue to learn along the way. I just hope that the young players can see something in me that helps them as they try to be the best versions of themselves.”

Currently in his second season as the captain of Cucine Lube Civitanova in the Italian SuperLega Credem Banca, De Cecco sees himself in the perfect spot to guide young players to success as the Italian giants have a squad packed with emerging talent.

Leading players like outside hitters Aleksandar Nikolov (19), Marlon Yant (22) and Mattia Bottolo (23) and opposite Adis Lagumdzija (24) has reinvigorated the Argentinean star in the 2023-2024 club season.

“This season we have a lot of young players, who have bright futures, such as Bottolo, Nikolov, Yant and Lagumdzija,” the setter added. “I’m happy to be here for another season and to help the ‘kids’ in the project and in their futures. I’m kind of the ‘dad’ of the team and sometimes I need to make sure everything is clear and that everyone is on the same page, but they’re great teammates and it’s very good to work with them. It’s a great opportunity for me to put everything on the court and enjoy the next couple of years.”

Paris 2024 is the goal with Argentina

Argentina will need De Cecco’s leadership probably more than ever in 2024, when the South Americans will try to qualify for the Paris Olympics via the FIVB World Rankings and follow up on their fantastic campaign in Tokyo, which saw them win bronze, taking the country to the podium after 33 years.

The South Americans had their first opportunity to secure their spots in Paris in October, during the Volleyball Olympic Qualifying Tournament, but finished third in Pool C and narrowly missed out the two spots in play.

The Argentineans are still in a good spot, occupying the sixth place in the FIVB World Rankings and with just one team that is not yet qualified ranked above them, but will need good results in the Volleyball Nations League 2024 to clinch one of the final five spots when the qualification period ends in June.

“We knew the Olympic Qualifier would be very hard,” De Cecco remarked. “But we still have an opportunity to take Argentina to the Olympics again and we’ll do everything in our power to make it happen. Tokyo was amazing, but it’s in the past now. There are several national teams better than us now, but the most important thing is that we manage to compete with them at a high level.”


De Cecco in action during the Olympic Qualifier

Although he didn’t make a decision about it yet, next year’s Olympics could be De Cecco’s final tournament with the Argentinean national team – he first planned on retiring internationally after Tokyo, but changed his plans and continued with the team. Set to go down as one of the best players in the history of his country, the playmaker is pretty humble when asked about which kind of legacy he hopes to leave.

“I don’t have many aspirations in that regard,” he commented. “To me, what matters is that I can leave a positive mark in everyone that was part of it. After that, time will tell if I’ll be remembered and for how long.”