Usain Bolt set for six-week trial with Central Coast Mariners

Usain Bolt controls the ball during an exhibition football match. Picture: Getty Images
Usain Bolt controls the ball during an exhibition football match. Picture: Getty Images
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Olympic champion sprinter Usain Bolt has entered into discussions to sign for Australian A-League side Central Coast Mariners on a trial, the club have confirmed.

The Mariners, who announced the appointment of Mike Phelan as sporting director on Monday, said the initial proposals were for a six-week period.

No contract is guaranteed for Bolt, who retired from the track after the 2017 World Championships and has previously expressed a desire to play professional football.

“The Central Coast Mariners remain committed to discussions with the world’s fastest man and his management team, regarding what role the club may play in Bolt’s burning ambition to become a professional footballer”, a statement from the club said.

The 31-year-old eight-time Olympic champion has recently trained with Norwegian side Stromsgodset and Bundesliga’s Borussia Dortmund.

The Mariners are based in Gosford - about 50 miles north of Sydney - and finished bottom in the A-League last season, recording the longest winless run of 11 games.

Former Central Coast players include John Sutton, who had spells at Wycombe and Motherwell, former Swindon, Cardiff and Plymouth midfielder Wayne O’Sullivan and former Nottingham Forest and Northampton defender Chris Doig.

Bolt’s previous football experience

Here we look at where the 31-year-old Jamaican has played and how he has performed.

Soccer Aid

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.

Stromsgodset

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.

Borussia Dortmund

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.

Mamelodi Sundowns

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.”