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Zungul’s Gone, if the Spirit Moves Him : Forward Says He May Be Off to Pittsburgh, but Bell Wants His Say

Times Staff Writer

Only in the Major Indoor Soccer League would a player know more than his owner about whether he will be traded or sold to another team.

Such is the case with Sockers forward Steve Zungul and owner Bob Bell.

“There is a possibility I’ll move over to Pittsburgh,” Zungul said Wednesday. “If it happens, Saturday night will be my last game with the Sockers. I want to make sure everything is set before I talk more.

“I don’t want to go. There are great fans and teammates here and it is hard to move at this point in the season. But I’m going to help these guys (Sockers) financially if I go. Pittsburgh would be paying the Sockers to get me. Now Bob Bell can buy championship rings for the players, and I hope he doesn’t buy cheap ones.”

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Bell is surprised that Zungul, who has a no-trade contract, is talking about a possible deal.

“Steve told me he talked to people there (Pittsburgh) and they made an offer he was considering,” Bell said. “Pittsburgh might be trying to lure him, but I haven’t talked to the people in Pittsburgh in over a week. They have to make a deal with me. He’s trying to make something happen on his own. Until they contact me, it’s all pie in the sky.”

Earlier this week, Bell said: “Pittsburgh has showed a real interest in him and they are tempting us, but we haven’t done anything about it. If they offered me seven million dollars, I’d say yes.”

Zungul, 31, won an unprecedented third MISL Triple Crown last season. He had 68 goals and 68 assists for 136 points in leading San Diego to the title. He was also the top scorer in the playoffs with 14 goals and 24 assists for 37 points. As the most prolific scorer in the indoor game, he has 554 goals and 354 assists in 259 regular-eason games. He leads the team with four goals and eight assists in six games this season.

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If he goes to the Spirit, Zungul will be reunited with Coach Don Popovic. They teamed to lead the New York Arrows to four straight MISL titles from the 1978-79 season through 1981-82. For part of the 1982-83 season and in 1983-84, Zungul and Popovic were once again together with the Golden Bay Earthquakes.

“I was with Pop for six years,” said Zungul, “and when you’ve been winning with that kind of person, you feel good.”


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