Dons supporter and journalist Rick Edwards has written a new book detailing the past four years called We Are Essendon, and Zaharakis told of his feelings after 34 of his former and current teammates were banned for the 2016 season.
The 27-year-old was not one of the players involved in the supplements program given his aversion to needles, but was ever present throughout the entire hearing process that spanned the last four seasons.
“From a selfish point of view you’re like ‘it’s f****** another wasted year at the footy club'” he said.
“Four years of your career down the drain where you haven’t had a realistic chance of winning a premiership.
“Possibly a third of my career once I’m all done will be a waste, never actually being able to compete for a premiership. My peak years – 23 to 26 – to have that happen in those four years; you feel a bit selfish in that regard.
“But I’m not the only one in that situation, I know 40 other blokes thinking ‘this is annoying me’; who think ‘my teammates have done nothing wrong and I’m being affected here as well by them being suspended and they don’t deserve to be’.
“You feel sorry for the guys suspended too, it’s the same thing – they are missing their peak years.”
The beginning of Zaharakis’ frustration starts way back in 2013, as Essendon were just weeks away from a certain finals berth before getting told they wouldn’t be participating in the finals series after the AFL handed down their penalties for the issue.
Zaharakis said the 2013 season was a frustrating time for not just himself but the entire club, as he believes they were repeatedly told their finals spot was secure before they were booted out by the AFL.
“The whole year we are getting told we won’t be kicked out of finals. But all of a sudden you get that deflating blow, that punch to the stomach, you are not going to play finals that year. The whole club fell apart,” he said.
“It sort of seemed like they punished us early. The other guys (the 34 served with infraction notices) didn’t get punished till years later. That was very frustrating. They went very early on that, but you can’t dispute it too much.”