When I’m not nerding out over soccer tactics, I’m usually listening to music—and nerding out over that too. My love for music has inspired many conversations with friends and strangers about their favorite songs and artists, and I’ve found these conversations often provide unique insight into who that person is, where they come from, and what motivates them on a day-to-day basis.
Typical athlete interviews tend to leave those deeper understandings unexplored, forcing players into one-dimensional personas in which their on-the-field production is valued over a lifetime of experience and growth. With that in mind, I teamed up with my brother, Peter Dunau — a fellow sports and music buff — to create a podcast dedicated to interviewing athletes about the music that helped them become the players and people they are today.
That podcast is The Athlete’s Playlist.
To kickoff our first episode, we welcomed Sounders legend Steve Zakuani to the studio. Steve took to us back to his roots in Tottenham to discuss how grime music, north London, and traveling the world as a youth footballer helped shape his style of play and his life.
Other highlights from the episode include: the differences between developing skills through street soccer and club soccer, Steve’s thoughts on the classic 2Pac/Biggie debate, how to survive playing on the wing under Caleb Porter, the current state of the Sounders, and what happens when Kasey Keller takes control of the locker room music.
0-10:46: The origins of grime music | Growing up in Tottenham
10:47-21:32: Arsenal youth academy | Great Congolese artists | The value of learning to play on the streets
21:32-28:28: An English perspective on the 2Pac verse Notorious B.I.G. rivalry
28:29-32:55: Journey from Arsenal youth academy to University of Akron
32:56-40:52: Life at University of Akron | Dealing with the intensity of Caleb Porter
40:53-45:40: Why Wretch 32 is Zakuani’s favorite musician
45:41-52:04: Sounders locker room music | Clint Dempsey’s rapping style | Zakuani’s favorite Seattle musicians | 4-4-2 vs. 4-2-3-1 formations
52:05-58:33: How Skepta helped Zakuani stay true to himself and overcome his injury
58:34-1:03:23: Kingdome Hope foundation | Unbreakable documentary
1:03:24-End: Current Sounders hot takes | Breaking down Eddie Johnson’s recent comments | The many layers of “Smile” by Jay Z.
Check out full version’s of this episode’s featured songs in the Spotify playlist below*:
* “Smile” by Jay-Z not available on Spotify.