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RISING STAR: Akron's Steve Zakuani
by Bryan Alvarez, November 25th, 2008 8AM

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Englishman Steve Zakuani emerged this fall as one of college soccer's most feared strikers and a leading candidate for Player of the Year honors. The sophomore leads all NCAA Division I scorers with 20 goals and 47 points. Bothered by a sprained left ankle during the Mid-American Tournament, Zakuani is rested and ready for the No. 5 Zips' second-round match against 2007 national runner-up Ohio State Tuesday in Akron.

POS.: Forward
AGE: 20
HOMETOWN: London, England
YOUTH CLUB: Arsenal FC youth team (Age 9-14)
COLLEGE: Akron
INTERNATIONAL: None.
STARTING OUT: It's the place I grew up in. I would play in the streets with the big kids. I have an older brother that's plays pro so that was a big part. My only other options were cricket and golf but I didn't want to play them.
EARLY SOCCER MEMORY: One summer when I about 10 or 11 years old, I was training with Arsenal. I was standing in the hallway and all the big players came by. I saw guys like Bergkamp and Henry. Arsene Wenger stopped and talked to me. From that moment, I decided I wanted to play pro.
FIRST CLEATS: I had a pair of Patrick's. They were terrible. I had to share them with my brother, too.
CURRENT CLEATS: Adidas Predators.
OTHER SPORTS: It was always soccer.
FAVORITE TEAMS: Arsenal, L.A. Lakers.
FAVORITE PLAYER: Ronaldinho, Kobe Bryant.
FAVORITE MOVIES: American History X, Freedom Writers and Malcolm X.
FAVORITE ACTOR: Denzel Washington.
FAVORITE ACTRESS: Sandra Bullock.
FAVORITE TV SHOW: Run's House.
COLLEGE EXPERIENCE: It's unbelievable. Back home, you have to make a choice between soccer or school. Here, I get to train every day and go to school. I get to meet people from different cultures. I can take an eight-hour road trip to New York. I have friends back home who play pro soccer. They train for two hours and then go home. It's been incredible here.
MOST INFLUENTIAL COACH: I have two. Caleb Porter, here at Akron, has been so influential. He checks up with me, check on my grades, checks up on me off the field. Soccer-wise, he's helped me become a better player. He's helped increased my muscle strength. The other coach is Fitz Lawrence from back home. When I was 15 or 16, he coached me. He was hard one me. He never allowed my to become complacent. He taught me to strive for perfection.
MEMORABLE COACHING ADVICE (from youth coach): My I was young, my dad told me, "Your only goal is to come off the field, after 90 minutes, with no regrets."
HOBBIES: Reading and video games. I like playing FIFA and Madden.
MUSIC: Dizzee Rascal, he's a young, English rapper. I also like Leona Lewis. She's from England, too. She grew up in the same neighborhood I grew up in.
READING: I love reading biographies. I've read biographies about Beckham, Tiger Woods and Bill Gates. I like reading about people I think are successful.
VACATION: The best place I've ever been is Tampa, Florida. It's unbelievable. The weather is great. One place I've always wanted to visit is Egypt.
FAMOUS PERSON YOU'D INVITE TO DINNER: John Wooden. I had no idea who he was before I came here. My coach gave me his book and I couldn't stop reading it.



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