Author: Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rüdd

Jury still out on Jamaican ex-sprint king winning contract

Usain Bolt, who bagged a brace on his first start for Australian top tier club Central Coast Mariners last Friday, has admitted that he doesn’t consider himself a footballer yet.

The 32-year-old Jamaican former sprinter is either being modest or cautious as he revealed: “Until I sign a contract, I’m not saying that I’m a footballer.”

He grabbed the headlines with his two goals for Mariners in their pre-season friendly 4-0 success over Macarthur South West United, celebrating each strike with his trademark Lightning Bolt pose.

But despite his heroics many former footballers were quick off the mark to criticise his ability on the field.

Yet Bolt, a massive Manchester United fan, will have been delighted by the tweet from former United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy about his first goal: “Great movement and finish!”

Following his retirement after the 2017 World Athletics Championships, the eight-time Olympic champion has thrown himself into trying to win a professional football contract – but is determined that he will only compete in the top flight.

Following failed stints with German Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund, Norwegian club Stromsgodset and South African team Sundowns, Bolt moved to Sydney to begin training with the Mariners in August.

Yet he has played just 92 minutes in friendlies since joining as a trialist. And it is becoming apparent that he is more marketable off the pitch than on it. Ticket sales have rocketed when Bolt is in the squad, with fans all over Australia eager to get a glimpse of the world’s fastest man.

Although the A-League season kicks on Friday, Mariners coach Mike Mulvey does not appear to be completely enamoured by Bolt quite yet.

Originally Bolt’s trial was indefinite but no-nonsense Mulvey, a former A-League champion, recently said that a decision about whether to offer Bolt a highly lucrative contract would take place around the Christmas period.

Mulvey has not changed his mind since Bolt scored twice on Friday and said: “The bottom line is Usain Bolt was a world-class athlete, and is probably the greatest athlete who’s ever lived – in my humble opinion.

“But he’s been retired from athletics for 12 months, and he hadn’t done much in that 12 months. We have an athlete who was going to train as a football player, and learn football fitness.

“We said 12 months to start with, and we’re all in agreement that we’ll now look at January (about a contract) – but we can see improvement.”

Before Friday fireworks, where Bolt was substituted after 74 minutes and given a standing ovation, his only run-out for Mariners was an 18-minute cameo role in their thumping 6-1 triumph at amateur outfit Central Coast Select in August.

With Mariners set to kick-off their A-League campaign on Sunday against Brisbane Roars, it appears unclear whether Bolt will play a part of Mulvey’s plans.

From the resounding success, in terms of ticket sales, of Bolt being part of the squad it would be extremely foolhardy of the Mariners not to crank up the hype and include the Jamaican for their first competitive match of the season.

But Bolt is a realistic and admitted after his latest game: “All I can do is do what I wanted to do, prove myself.

“They (Mariners) have seen what I’m capable of and how I’m training. They need to analyse and determine if I’m good enough for the club.”

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Jury still out on Jamaican ex-sprint king winning contract Usain Bolt, who bagged a brace on his first start for Australian top tier club Central Coast Mariners last Friday, has admitted that he doesn't consider himself a footballer yet. The 32-year-old Jamaican former sprinter is either being modest or cautious as...

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