Cuba’s Jose Miguel Gutierrez Suarez in the mixed zone at the El Menzah hall in Tunis
Tunis, Tunisia, August 27, 2019 – Jose Miguel Gutierrez Suarez, оne of the leaders of the Cuban squad at the 2019 FIVB Boys’ U19 Volleyball World Championship in Tunis, told fivb.com he dreams of playing on the men’s national team alongside his older brother Miguel David.
Miguel David is four years older than Jose Miguel and has already left his mark at the age-category world championships. In 2017, he won silver and the best opposite award at the U21 World Championship, as well as bronze and a best outside spiker award at the U23 World Championship, so 18-year-old Jose Miguel has a bright example to follow.
“I follow in my brother’s footsteps,” Jose Miguel said. “He is only four years older than me. I always watch him in competition. He often gives me specific advice about my volleyball techniques.”
Jose Miguel Gutierrez Suarez in reception against Brazil at the U19 World Championship
However, they both have another family member ahead of them to look up to. Their grandfather, Jose David Suarez, was a member of the Cuban men’s national team in his time and represented the country at the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games. Their mother also played volleyball between the ages of 12 and 16.
“My greatest motivation comes from my family. They always push me to train hard,” revealed the 192-cm-tall spiker. “I am also greatly motivated by my desire to play on the men’s national team together with my brother.”
In a way, everything in Jose Miguel’s life revolves around volleyball. He is involved with the favourite game even romantically! His 17-year-old girlfriend Ellemay Santa Miranda also plays volleyball. She was the libero of the Cuban national team at this year’s U20 World Championship.
“We always help each other. We talk about the game, about training. We point to each other’s mistakes,” said the young man. “After that we go out to enjoy our free time and each other’s company.”
Jose Miguel got into volleyball when he was 12 years old.
“There was a volleyball teacher at my school. He saw that I was taller than my schoolmates and asked me to play the sport. He even came to our house to ask my parents and that’s how I started. After that I went to a special volleyball school. At 15, I moved to an elite national volleyball school and I am still there today,” the talented Cuban told the story.
He would like to play in the Italian league one day, because “it’s the best in the world.”
“But my only big dream is to be a great volleyball player – first, the best in the world for my age and, then, the best in the world overall,” Jose Miguel pointed out.
In that case, it comes as no surprise that Earvin Ngapeth is his idol.
“He has many abilities in the game,” the young hopeful explained. “Like me, he is not very tall but, at 1.94 cm, he is one of the best players in the world. I very much like his way of playing.”
Outside volleyball, Jose Miguel looks up to Neymar, not only because he is one of the best soccer players in the world, but also because he likes his character in his favourite computer game, FIFA Football. In addition to playing computer games, the Cuban volleyballer enjoys listening to music and hip-hop and reggaeton are his favourite. Like most kids in Cuba, he also likes relaxing with a game of baseball when he finds some free time outside his volleyball duties.
Jose Miguel Gutierrez Suarez and his teammates at the U21 World Championship in Bahrain
The current U19 event in Tunisia is not the first world championship for Jose Miguel Gutierrez Suarez. Last month he was on the squad that represented Cuba at the U21 World Championship in Bahrain.
“At the U21 Worlds I was one of the youngest players on the team. Here I am one of the leaders and I have to take responsibility,” stated Jose Miguel. “Our objective at both world championships was to reach the top eight, but we could not achieve it in Bahrain. We have four more very important games here at the U19 World Championship in Tunisia and we are going to fight hard to come out victorious.”