As mentioned below, Steve Zakuani agreed to an interview today regarding the Sounders meeting Saturday with the Colorado Rapids and Brian Mullan, the midfielder whose reckless tackle fractured his leg last April 22 in Colorado.
Here’s a transcript of that interview:
On his health: I feel good. Training just finished, felt good, I went for the full session just as I’ve been doing for the past two months. I’m getting stronger and fitter every day. I feel better. Obviously, not ready to play a game, but as close as I’ve been since the injury, so I feel good.
On his return date: You never know, like I said. But it’s been getting closer and closer. Every week changes. Some weeks I feel better than other weeks, but this week is a good feel. I feel good for the last three weeks actually, so it’s getting closer and I think my body will tell me when it’s time – I’ll just know. Right now I’m just a little bit off, but not too far.
On Mullan playig while Zakuani is still out: He’s been playing for almost a year. I have not thought about it at all. I’ve just been focusing on getting myself fit and I think I’ve said in the past and I’ll say again: When he comes, for me, it’s like when any team comes in. It’s no special motivation, even if I was playing. There’s no difference. I wish him the best, I wish that team the best. I never wish ill on anybody. I just want the fans to understand that I’ve got no issues with the guy. It’s not like we have some previous history and he came in to do it. It was just a bad tackle. I wish him the best. The fans will do what they need to do, but my advice is just let it go and support the team: Use that energy to support the team. The guys will need it.
On reports Mullan wants to talk with him this weekend: I haven’t spoken to him. I haven’t spoken to him in a long time. I’m sure he knows where to find me. I’m here. I think he has my number. I haven’t spoke to him. Like I said: We can have the talk, we can not have the talk; it doesn’t change anything. I don’t think there’s anything that needs to be said or done at this point. The last thing I want it to be is a distraction to the game. I just want my team to get back to winning ways in front of the home fans. I’ll be here like a fan as always, supporting the guys, wanting us to get off to a good start. Ten points after five games would be good, so that’s what my focus is. I’m not thinking about anyone on their team: Brian Mullan. I’ll be happy to see Sanna – oh, no Sanna, he’s gone. Tyrone. I’ll be happy to see Tyrone. He’s who I’d want to see. That’s what I look forward to most when teams come in, not a specific individual.
On previous hopes of returning by summer:That was like a loose target. That was not set in stone. Like I said, if I had felt good in March, I’d have played in March. If it will be July, it will be July. I just don’t know. Obviously, I’m going to get in some reserve games coming up. I need those for fitness, which is the last thing. The leg’s fine, everything; I just don’t have the fitness. I’ve been out for a year, so it’s catching up a year with the guys, and that’s a long way to be out and try to come back. Summer would be nice, and I’m still aiming for sometime in the next few weeks and then I’m just looking forward to that day.
On if a Grant Wahl SI story, in which Mullan clarified his regret over the incident, affected his opinion) No because I spoke to him already. And through some of my friends, he sent messages – every time some of my friends have played against him he’s said check on Steve, how is Steve. And they’ll call me or they’ll text me. So I’ve known he was remorseful. Like I said, the only thing I didn’t like was his initial comment after the game. And to be fair, he said he didn’t know that the injury was that bad. But when he said he’d do the same tackle again, I think that was a bit insensitive at the time. But I think he’s looked back at that and said that was a mistake. But other than that, I think he understands what it cost me. You can see the scar: I have a massive scar on my leg and skin graphs. Everyone knows it’s cost me a year of my career. There’s no getting around that. He understands that, but I don’t like want to hold that over his head. I want him, especially on Saturday, to come in and play his game. Play the game. Let’s just play the game of football and try to get a win and then move on to the next week. And then the day I play against him, it will be the same. There’s nothing to go back to really between me and him. And like I said, I really, really, really do wish him the best. I understand that as much as it affected me, it affected him. It was a sad experience for both of us, I think.