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Zungul Ponders Retirement : Keyword: At 35, 'The Lord of All Indoors,' is frustrated with his coach and his role with the Sockers.

February 28, 1990|DON PATTERSON

SAN DIEGO — Is Steve Zungul thinking of calling it a career before the end of this rocky season?

"Might happen, it might not happen," Zungul said Tuesday. "I don't know yet."

Zungul, the 35-year old Socker forward known as "The Lord of All Indoors," said he is frustrated with his present situation. He said he made the decision not to travel for tonight's game against the Dallas Sidekicks for reasons other than his arthritic hips.

"I have arthritis, and it's going to stay with me the rest of my life," he said. "But nothing has changed. I can play.

"I'm not in the regular shifts. Why should I go on the road if I'm not going to play? For two minutes? To jump on the field when we're down? I'm not going all the way just for that. It's very hard to sacrifice yourself for a coach who doesn't wish you any good."

Socker Coach Ron Newman said Zungul told Bill Taylor, the team's trainer, that his hips were bothering him, and that he wouldn't be able to travel. Newman also said Zungul is not fit for full shifts.

"I have to sort of keep getting him in (the game) in bits and pieces to get him in shape so he can hold down a full-time spot," Newman said. "But he's certainly not capable of holding down a full-time spot yet."

Zungul played significantly in Friday's 8-1 loss to Baltimore and a few shifts in Saturday's 6-1 loss to St. Louis. Yet, according to Newman, Zungul was unable to keep up with his teammates in certain drills during Monday's practice.

"I thought surely if he can only play bits of two games and then he can't go again, isn't something trying to tell him that it's time to hang them up?" Newman said. "If he was five years younger, I could sure use him."

Zungul thinks he could help the team if he could do things his way.

"I can be in shape in one week," he said. "I'm already in pretty good shape. I think I can do things, but I have to have my own power. I cannot be the 10th player or the 15th player.

"I cannot be quiet about things that I see going wrong. I can listen to opinions from Kevin (Crow) and Quinny (Brian Quinn), but those guys can't tell me how to play the game. All of them, they're my students. I know they're big guys now, they're grown people. But life is life and they're still young in that department."

If Zungul were to retire, the Sockers would have several options. One possibility, a trade, could happen either way. Socker President Ron Cady said Tuesday the Sockers are still negotiating but nothing has been solidified.

Another possibility would be to bring a player up from the reserve team. Newman even said he would consider Juli Veee, the popular Socker forward who retired at the conclusion of the 1988 season.

"If suddenly Steve said he were going to retire, I think I'd have to take a look at Juli," Newman said. "If Juli was serious, I'd have to get him in training for a week and see how fit he was."

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