Timbers’ Steve Zakuani announces retirement from professional soccer

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Portland Timbers winger Steve Zakuani announced his retirement from professional soccer on Wednesday.

“When my career became more about the injections, MRIs, surgeries, doctors visits, painkillers and limited physical capabilities than the playing, enjoyment, love and passion for the game, I knew it was time to call it a day,” Zakuani wrote on his website, SteveZakuani.com.

After being selected No. 1 overall by the Seattle Sounders in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft, Zakuani burst onto the scene, leading all rookies in goals and assists. The following season he continued his fine form, notching 10 goals and six assists in league play before a tackle by Colorado Rapids midfielder Brian Mullan in April 2011 broke the Congolese attacker’s tibia and fibia, sidelining him for nearly 18 months.

Upon returning to the fold, Zakuani was not the same player. His quick burst of pace and his confidence were both lost while the injuries kept coming. Seattle kept the faith and even allowed Zakuani to join Portland where he could play under the tutelage of his college coach at Akron, Caleb Porter. This season, Zak appeared in 17 league games for the Timbers, chipping in with three assists.

“It’s tough,” Porter told the media at Providence Park about Zakuani’s situation. “He lit it up in college, and he lit it up in his first five years as a pro, four years as a pro. And to see a player of his caliber have to retire in his prime, I think it’s just tough.”

“He’s going to move on into the next chapter and have a really bright future because he’s an intelligent young man,” Porter said. “He’s mature, he’s got charisma, he’s got conviction, and he’s going to do something, I’m not sure what, maybe president of Congo or something.”