Steve Zakuani just can’t stop going.
The Seattle Sounders’ first overall pick in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft, Zakuani was off to an impressive start to his pro career before suffering a devastating broken leg in his third season. Nine surgeries and 500 days later, Zakuani returned to the pitch, although his career never reached the heights that he seemed destined for prior to the injury.
A member of the club’s broadcast team and the host of a Sounders podcast, Zakuani remains a cherished part of the Seattle soccer community. He published a book in 2015 and has his own charity, Kingdom Hope, which raises money for youth scholarships.
This month, he also announced that an hour-long documentary on his story, “Unbreakable,” will premiere at SIFF Cinema Egyptian on February 8, which is his 31st birthday.
SoundersFC.com sat down with Zakuani to discuss the project.
Q: When did you first get the idea that your story could turn into a documentary?
“In October 2017 was when we first thought of it, then we spent a week and a half filming it in London. We went to my old neighborhood, my old house, my school. All the stories that came out of it went so in-depth that when we came back home I knew we had something special. We hadn’t even done the second half of my life – the U.S. part – but I knew we had something special. I stayed out of the creative part, I didn’t want to influence it. I wasn’t in the room for any interviews. It came out great.”
Q: Your cousin filmed the project. What was it like to have someone do this documentary who already knew your story?
“Without him I couldn’t do it. I believe in quality, let’s do it right. He has made some independent movies in the U.K. and has a production company. We grew up in the same house from when I was seven or eight, so the last 22 years of my life he’s been there every step of the way. He’s been a part of the journey, so it was easy for him to know how to tell the story without me having any creative direction at all.”
Q: What is the feedback you’ve gotten from it so far?
“I sent it to two people I trust a lot, [Sounders FC Owner] Adrian [Hanauer] and my agent Richard Motzkin, and their feedback gave me confidence to keep going and finish it. They loved it. Adrian watched it twice and Richard watched it several times. It’s a story that was told well and I think it will inspire a lot of people.”
In his first two professional seasons, Steve Zakuani recorded 14 goals and 10 assists. | Rod Mar
Q: What inspired you to choose the title, “Unbreakable?”
“I broke my leg and had nine surgeries. I had to retire. But I am still standing, still happy. The things you go through don’t have to break you. Physically I was broken, but otherwise I am unbreakable. That’s not going to stop me. The event that happened in April 2011 became a book, it became a movie – I took the power back from it. At some level, you must look at it and say, “That sucks, that was difficult,” but the other part is “How can we use this to help more people?” and we really have. It’s not a soccer story, it’s a life story. Everyone is unbreakable.”
Q: Pro athlete. Author. Movie producer. What’s next for Steve Zakuani?
“A vacation (laughs). It’s so much work. I’ve been working around the clock. I’ve got to mention Dan Price, one of my best friends, and he has believed in the project since day one. We met at his house and we just said that we were going to produce this ourselves. It’s expensive, but we’ve believed in the project. What’s next is pushing this out. I think it has a two-to-three-year cycle. It’s going to live in people’s homes on DVD’s, it’s going to live online, it’s going to live on streaming. Once that’s done, I think my time in Seattle will wind down and I’ll end up in London. What’s next for me is to push this out, give it to the people of Seattle, see what it does, and once it loses its wings, that will be the last thing I’m supposed to do in Seattle. That’s what I’m thinking right now."
Q: What’s it like knowing you have a community in Seattle that will support you?
“Priceless. What can I say? I don’t know if I could live in any other U.S. city and be who I am and do it. I haven’t kicked the ball for the Sounders since the end of 2013, but that connection might be stronger now than even then. It gets stronger every year. I think a part of it is the person who I am. I don’t hide from the community, I am there. I hang out with fans in bars. I am accessible, I am not distant from them. I think that helps. So, when I think I want to do something, they support it because I support the Sounders.
Even at the premiere, there is no red carpet. There is a green carpet and everyone is going to walk it. It’s not for VIPs, we are always going to be together.”