If you hadn’t heard of the story of Steve Zakuani, it’s definitely one to read up on. For those that didn’t know, while playing a MLS game against the Colorado Rapids, Zakuani took a horrific tackle from Brian Mullan. As a result, Zakuani suffered a broken tibia and fibula. However, after several surgeries, rehabilitation, and some reserve games, he finally made his return to the field. The Sounders wrote an article that you can read about here.
His return obviously was definitely a heart-warming event. It looked as though he could have been gone from the game for longer (I’ve seen two other tackles from Arsenal players that were pretty savage that put them out of the game for quite a while too, Eduardo and Aaron Ramsey). But he finally made his return. But what impressed me wasn’t just the return itself, but what happened afterwards. He met with Brian Mullen at the end of the game, shared a hug and exchanged shirts.
I don’t think this was by any means a PR stunt because exchanging shirts is typically a gesture only shown to people that have respect for one another. You usually see that with players of the same sort of caliber or class. It could be friends too. But obviously they aren’t of the same kind of caliber. You’d think after such a tackle, they wouldn’t be considered friends or even be shown any kind of respect either… That’s why this is such a display of sportsmanship and forgiveness on the part of Zakauni. To forgive the person that could have put your career out of the picture was stunning and such an act should be applauded. This is rarely seen in sports these days.
It’s even more fascinating to me when I was reading random posts from Yahoo! Sports of people that are still saying “Mullen should be banned for life. The guy is a bastard. Get rid of him from the game.” Maybe it’s time for people to just find some closure in all this. Zakuani said he quickly forgave the guy after the accident, and remember, it was his career that was put in doubt. Why can’t everyone else do the same?
Steve Zakuani was truly a class act that day. His comeback was the story of the day, but his forgiveness really showed true character.