Seattle Sounders winger Steve Zakuani is known for being a bright personality who joyfully shares his ability with fans, while using his fame to help others through many charity paths. Today Zakuani was not bright, there weren't many smiles. At final availability day he revealed some of the harsh realities of his recovery from the double leg break, most notably his suffering compartment syndrome (includes graphic image). In short compartment syndrome is caused through the lack of blood flow from a created compartment that can lead to death of tissue in the affected area. For Zakuani it was the nerves in the area that connect to his foot.
"I lost a lot of nerves in my right side and sensation in my foot. Obviously as a footballer you need sensation in your foot," Zakuani explained.
His goal is still to be ready for the first games of the year. He not be starting from the same point as others on the team, but in his opinion 2012 starts now. He has a fitness program over the next four months, one designed to prepare for more than just a return. He answered a question about his role on the team next year stating;
"All I can do is get back to my level, maybe surpass the level that I had which I was very happy with. Wherever I fit in I fit in, that's just the nature of what I have to face and overcome."
Recovery for the speed based player involves a process currently focused on technical ability. He practices shooting, dribbling and passing, but the next few months are about regaining speed. His program will be five days a week for the near future and guided by doctors, training staff and the coaches he looks to add back that explosive nature that brings fans to their feet.
"Right now my goal is to try work on sprinting. That's the last thing to come, the explosiveness. I'm waiting for that speed to come back, leg strength and maybe a mental issue."
That last bit is the one that he can not train for, but instead must prepare himself for that first time. The fractures and the compartment syndrome are treated conventionally. The path to recovery follows recognized systems, but when Zakuani was asked about that first tackle in a game action and how he would react his answer was simple.
"When I come back I'll see."
Whether Steve Zakuani comes back as the same player, a better player or needs more time he certainly understands the magnitude of work both behind him and ahead of him. He knows that he must work harder than he's ever worked before, but he is also planning to play games in March and helping the team continue to get better year to year.