As impressively as former Sounder player and current broadcaster Steve Zakuani reinvented himself within the game, he is justifiably as proud of his ability to forge another path outside of it.

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Steve Zakuani’s social media biography is startlingly vulnerable for a former professional athlete.

“Learning to be happy,” Zakuani’s Twitter profile reads, a worthy pursuit in any walk of life but rarely put so straightforwardly.

Such frankness has served Zakuani well in his second act as part of the Sounders’ game-day broadcast team, a position he accepted shortly after his retirement in 2014. And he remains a both a vibrant part of the local soccer community and a rising voice within MLS — his charity match Sunday at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila features a host of former Sounders as well as U.S. national-team legend Landon Donovan and former NFL wide receiver Chad Johnson.

But as impressively as Zakuani has reinvented himself within the game, he’s just as proud of his ability to forge another path outside it.

“When you stop playing the sport – I think it’s the same with anyone who has any job for a long period of time – a lot of your identity is tied into that,” Zakuani said recently. “One of the questions when I retired was, ‘Can I learn to be happy without being Steve Zakuani the footballer, Steve Zakuani the Sounder, the Timber?’ It was a challenge I set for myself. I’m doing well. I’m very happy. I’m content. I found other things in life that I didn’t used to enjoy before.”

Zakuani has conquered one of MLS’ most resonant sob stories, taking ownership of the incident that altered his playing career for the worse.

Last year, he published a book, 500 Days, about his recovery from a broken leg suffered in a 2011 match. The horrific tackle that led to the injury, Rapids midfielder Brian Mullan smashing into a blind-sided Zakuani with cleats high, gets brought up with every violent collision. Zakuani even inserted himself into the debate in the aftermath of Nigel De Jong’s much-derided takedown of Portland playmaker Darlington Nagbe last month.

“When something happens in the league, I’ll talk about it,” Zakuani said. “I’ve played in this league. I’ve played with these guys. I know how it works. The Nagbe thing is a bit unique because he’s a very close friend of mine. I was watching it live like everybody else. It’s amazing that he’s back. When things like that happen, I’m definitely going to talk.”

Zakuani’s story — the injury, the comeback, the years only occasionally reaching his previous peak and retirement at 26 — connects with people well outside of the soccer world. He does public speaking and gets invited to corporate retreats, a walking, talking inspiration on the value of pushing through adversity.

“They love athletes. They love my story. That opens a lot of doors,” Zakuani said. “Most of my life doesn’t involve soccer anymore. It’s amazing, to be in that position and enjoy it. It’s a good way to live in general. I still get to stay involved in the game, but I’m exploring other things that I’m passionate about, telling stories and speaking.”

It’s been barely more than a year since Zakuani first contemplated his next step, the wound of his early retirement still fresh.

“The hardest part is not knowing how good I could’ve eventually been. That’s hard,” Zakuani said then. “I didn’t lose my career because of lack of dedication or because I got out of training — nothing like that. It was taken from me, in a sense. And I have to accept that.”

Coming to grips with lingering questions as heavy as those is going to take more than a positive start to post-retirement life. A small part of Zakuani always will wonder what could have been had Mullan not slid into that tackle.

But Zakuani is far closer to that lofty goal set for himself on social media than he ever would have guessed last winter.

“People always asked me what was next,” Zakuani said. “It was more important to take easy steps to just enjoy that. Learn to be a content human being who enjoys life. In my career, I went through a lot of adversity. To be on the other side of it, it’s taught me a lot about perspective.

“I’m still learning, as well, but my perspective is clear.”

2016 Zakuani & Friends Charity Game

When, where: 2 p.m. Sunday, Starfire Stadium in Tukwila.

Notable: Scheduled participants include former U.S. men’s national-team star Landon Donovan, former Sounder Eddie Johnson, former NFL wide receiver Chad Johnson and Seahawks kicker Steven Hauschka.

Tickets: Begin at $25 and can be purchased here. Proceeds go toward scholarships for local club teams and college players.