Gary Smith calls Steve Zakuani injury "worst day of my coaching career" | THE SIDELINE

Gary Smith

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Former Colorado Rapids head coach Gary Smith has been out of coaching since he was fired by League 1 club Stevenage, which followed his four years in Major League Soccer, on March 19 of this year. As he's currently unemployed by a soccer team, Gary has found another way of passing by the time as he awaits his next managerial job — sporadically writing columns for Cascadia and West Coast soccer outlet, Prost Amerika.

In his latest entry, Smith writes openly and passionately about the worst day he ever experienced in his coaching career, and it's not being let go by the Rapids, or controversially fired by Stevenage. It's the broken leg suffered by Seattle's Steve Zakuani and inflicted by Brian Mullan that nearly ended the career of the Sounders winger in April 2011.

The entire column takes about five minutes to read, and it's well worth doing so. Some highlights include the following:

On Mullan's comments following the injury:

"Brian went out and said something very unwise to the media postmatch about making that type of tackle again. In reality, we should have never let him near a journalist that night.

"We were waiting for a smart new media relations officer to arrive from Chivas and this one match fell between the cracks of the last one departing, and the new arrival. I have no doubt that had it happened at any other time, Brian would not have been allowed near the media and would not have uttered those words that quite understandably angered Seattle fans. Any hope that the anger at his tackle might display some sense of proportion went right out the window. He had made things worse."

On Mullan's refusal to appeal the 10-game suspension:

"Brian was absolutely distraught after the event and needed therapy to deal with what he had done to a young man’s career. When he received the 10-game ban, the club’s immediate reaction, of course, was to appeal.

"It was Brian Mullan himself who made it absolutely clear that he did not want to appeal what he felt was the decision of the larger footballing community, and certainly the league. And if that were going to be his punishment, then he would duly serve that. And he would do so with dignity."

We've heard from the players involved — Zakuani and Mullan — numerous times about the incident, but it was perhaps even more interesting to hear from the man controlling things inside the offending camp in the days immediately thereafter. Gary Smith comes across as genuine and sympathetic to all parties involved, which goes to show the character of the man, no matter how you felt about his style of soccer or his teams.