Life’s becoming a pitch for Usain
Sprint king has gone on trial Down Under.
Record-breaking sprinter Usain Bolt has agreed an indefinite trial with Australian club Central Coast Mariners.
The A-League outfit have become the latest side to assess Bolt’s footballing ability since the eight-time Olympic champion retired from athletics last year.
Here, Press Association Sport’s Charlie McGrath looks at where the 31-year-old Jamaican has played and how he has performed.
A Manchester United fan, Bolt has said he dreams of playing for the Red Devils one day. He was able to get a taste of what that might be like at the charity match Soccer Aid this summer, where he captained the World XI side at Old Trafford. Playing up front, Bolt came close to scoring on several occasions, hitting the bar and having one shot which appeared to cross the line not given by the officials. The match went to penalties where Bolt finally found the back of the net from 12 yards. He was named man of the match by broadcaster ITV.
Wearing the number 9.58 shirt – in honour of his 100-metre world record in 2009 – Bolt made a brief appearance in a Norwegian friendly in June. The former Olympic champion had been training with Stromsgodset that week, culminating with a match against Norway Under-19s. The 31-year-old’s impact was limited, however, only coming on for the last 20 minutes in a 1-0 defeat. He did have one good chance to score during his time on the pitch, but could not convert a close-range header.
Bolt was invited to train with Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund for two days during an international break in March. The presence of the world’s fastest man attracted 1,400 fans, who were rewarded by seeing Bolt score a header and nutmeg U19 defender Dario Scuderi. Bolt said he would have given his performance a seven out of 10. However, the then Dortmund boss Peter Stoger was not quite so impressed, saying Bolt has “a lot of work to do” to become a top-level footballer.
Hublot Match of Friendship
Bolt’s skill and athleticism stood out in this charity game in May. So much so, his manager for the day Jose Mourinho remarked “Maybe football lost a talent to athletics”. The five-a-side game featured the likes of Diego Maradona, Roberto Carlos, Marcel Desailly and Hernan Crespo. Bolt was on the scoresheet as the match finished 11-11.
Bolt spent a day in January training with Mamelodi Sundowns, who are the most successful side in South Africa’s Premier Soccer League. He was visiting the country as part of an athletics development scheme. Nothing came of the brief run-out, although Bolt did receive some praise from manager Pitso Mosimane, who said “Good thing is he’s a free agent! And he can play in a few positions.”