TUKWILA – Seattle Sounders forward Steve Zakuani said Friday he's in the best shape he's been in since breaking his right leg in an April 22 match against the Colorado Rapids.
''Every day you get some victories, some forward steps,'' Zakuani said in his first comments about his injury and his recovery. ''It's the best I've been. I would like to say that the toughest times are behind me. My outlook is positive and looking forward.''
Zakuani was injured when Rapids midfielder Brian Mullan attempted a slide tackle but missed the ball and instead landed squarely on Zakuani's planted right leg. Zakuani underwent surgery the same night in Colorado and Mullan was given a 10-match suspension by the MLS.
Zakuani said some days he is able to go without crutches and he has begun riding a bike and jogging on a special treadmill that keeps him from putting his full weight on his leg.
Zakuani also has some nerve issues that left him unable to feel his foot for the first three weeks following the injury.
''Every day is some small victory. I go rehab on Wednesday and then come back on Friday or something and my leg comes down a bit more than I did the previous time, and that's something that we celebrate. Maybe I can put a bit more weight standing on one leg or something. That's the small victories.''
He said it's been hard for him to watch the team play and that he's only been to one game since the injury.
Zakuani said he forgives Mullan for what he called a ''really bad tackle'' and that he has received letters of support from all over the world, including from Los Angeles midfielder David Beckham and Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Deon Butler.
He said he has not spoken with Mullan but that Mullan had tried to contact him a couple times since the injury and just hasn't been able to connect.
''There was never any bitterness,'' Zakuani said. ''All my energy was on getter better. The second that it happened on the field I was already planning my recovery, I was already trying to estimate what it's going to take, and I was thinking to myself about people who I know who have broken their leg and how it was for them and what they did. That was all my focus, and my focus was on making sure my family was OK and that I was OK, and it wasn't on having any kind of hatred or bitterness toward Brian Mullan. That's too much of a burden to carry.''
Zakuani won't put any timetable on his recovery. He said it helps his mindset to just continue to rehab without trying to hit benchmarks along the way.
''The way it's going, honestly, one week I can't bend my leg, and then the next week I'm walking,'' Zakuani said. ''And then I'm walking with two crutches and I can barely do it, and then by next week I'm on no crutches. It happens pretty quickly sometimes, so I'm not ruling anything out.''