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April 12, 2012 at 12:44 PM

Zakuani: “I’ve got no issues with (Mullan). … My advice is just let it go and support the team.”

zakuani mug 2012.jpgReporters got a chance to catch up with Steve Zakuani after Thursday’s practice at CenturyLink Field, mostly to address Brian Mullan’s first trip to Seattle since last year’s ugly incident that resulted in a broken leg for the Sounders FC midfielder. Here’s the transcript of the conversation:

* * *

(Can you give us an update on how you’re doing?) “I feel good. Training just finished; (I) feel 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 (I’m) as close as I’ve been since the injury, so I feel good.”

(Any thoughts on your return?) “You never know, but like I said, it’s been getting closer and closer. Every week changes. Some weeks I feel better than other weeks, but this week is a good week. 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.”

(Will it be tough to see Brian Mullan on your home field?) “No. I mean 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 their 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. So 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.”

(He said to Grant Wahl in the story earlier this year that he’d like to talk to you in person. Has he reached out to you yet?) “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 spoken to him. Like I said: We can have the talk, we can not have the talk — it won’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 is for it to be a distraction to the game. I just want our 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 pretty 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 (Nyassi) – oh, not Sanna. He’s gone. … I’ll be happy to see Tyrone (Marshall) and I have a few friends on that team who I want to see. That is what I look forward to most when teams come in, not a specific individual.”

(Has anything changed regarding a potential summer return?) “That was like a loose target. Nothing’s been set in stone. Like I said, if I had felt good in March, I’d have played in March. If it’s going to be in 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 missing. The leg’s fine and everything; I just don’t have the fitness. I’ve been out for a year, so it’s catching up one year with the guys, and that’s a long way to really be out and try to come back. Summer would be nice, and I’m still aiming for some time in the next few weeks and then I’m just looking forward to that day.”

(Did any of Mullan’s comment in Wahl’s story change your perspective on anything at all?) “No, because I spoke to him already, and through some of my friends, he’s 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 from the beginning, 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 tackle again, I think that was a bit insensitive at the time. 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 — it’s a skin graft. 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, let’s try to get a win and then move on to the next week. That will be it. 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’s also affected him. It was a sad experience for both of us, I think.


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