English Premier League star Kurt Zouma has spoken out on his cat-kicking shame, admitting: “I have great remorse”.
The West Ham defender pleaded guilty to two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal after a disturbing video emerged in February, The Sun reports.
Zouma, 27, was captured on camera kicking his pet cat in the abdomen and slapping it on the head at his Essex home, and was later sentenced to 180 hours of community service.
The Hammers released a statement that said: “Kurt admitted at the earliest opportunity that what he did was wrong. He has apologised without reservation.”
Watch the world’s best footballers every week with beIN SPORTS on Kayo. LIVE coverage from Bundesliga, Ligue 1, Serie A, Carabao Cup, EFL & SPFL. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >
Zouma briefly apologised after the video’s release, but speaking openly for the first time since his sentencing in June, he said: “It’s been a difficult spell for me and my family.
“Obviously, I have done something very bad and I apologise again for what I’ve done. I know it was very tough for people to watch and to see that and obviously I feel very, very sorry.
“I have great remorse about it and now I’m trying to move on with my family and looking ahead. I learned from it, that’s the most important thing, I would say.
“Obviously, I had support from many, many people around me who helped me stay focused on football and I try to stay happy.”
In his short statement back in February, Zouma explained: “Our two cats are perfectly fine and healthy. This behaviour was an isolated incident that will not happen again.”
Zouma was later fined £250k ($A439K) by West Ham – donated to animal charities – and banned from keeping cats for five years, with the RSPCA taking away his pets after its investigation under the Animal Welfare Act.
However, boss David Moyes decided against dropping Zouma from his squad, and the Frenchman played in a match less than 24 hours after the video was made public.
Asked how important the club’s support has been, Zouma added: “They have been unbelievable with me, the support that I received from my teammates, from the staff.
“Even from the fans, they have been unreal, and they helped me stay focused on the game, to try to do my best on the pitch all the time and.
“I can’t thank them enough for what they’ve done. This club is like my family.”
The video was initially posted on Snapchat by his younger brother Yoan, 24, who was ordered to carry out 140 hours of community service after pleading guilty to one count of aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring his brother to commit an offence.
Yoan was also suspended by his club Dagenham & Redbridge for almost a month.
This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission.