Author: Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rüdd

Learning curve for Jamaican legend before next club

Usain Bolt has admitted, after rejecting a one-year contract with Central Coast Mariners, that playing professional football “is a little bit harder”.

And after ending his trial with the Australian team the Jamaican athletic icon, with eight Olympic gold medals to his name, was blasted by football commentators Down Under.

The media experts were quick to put the boot in by heavily criticising the 32-year-old’s lack of commitment as well as his lack of skills on the pitch.

But Bolt hit back and admitted: “I’ve learned that I still have it. I figure that I was improving a lot, so as you can see from the first game to the last game I really improved and did better.

“I’ve learned that it [top-flight club football] is a little bit harder, but it’s all about dedication and work with the team.”

Bolt joined the A-League club in August, 12 months after retiring from a stellar athletics career, but made just two appearances in friendlies for the Mariners.

He was clearly lacking match fitness on his 18-minute substitute debut. But he bounced back in October to bag a brace on his first start, which lasted 74 minutes before being hauled off.

With ticket sales rocketing for the Mariners and immense media hype surrounding the presence of the world’s fastest man in Australia’s top tier then his agent demanded a lucrative contract. However, the Mariners offered a deal that was way below his expectations and with no guaranteed playing time.

Football Federation Australia refused to contribute towards Bolt’s salary with the Mariners and, with no third-party backer willing to top up the deal, the sprinting legend walked away from Mariners last week.

Having experienced unsuccessful trials with top-flight outfits in Germany, Norway and South Africa then Bolt will have to rethink where exactly to tackle next.

The Jamaica Football Federation are hoping he will play locally in the Red Stripe Premier, but without a massive sponsorship that seems impossible.

The two-season deal remains to sign for Maltese champions Valletta FC, who can offer a lucrative contract following recent investors from Abu Dhabi. And Bolt would undoubtedly shine in the small sunny Mediterranean island’s league as so many players are only part-timers.

Despite his potential footballing career in limbo, Bolt remains upbeat about his goal to turn professional.

He added: “We’ll see what happens. I think people are still contacting my agent now about opportunities, so we’ll see in which direction it goes.”

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Learning curve for Jamaican legend before next club Usain Bolt has admitted, after rejecting a one-year contract with Central Coast Mariners, that playing professional football “is a little bit harder”. And after ending his trial with the Australian team the Jamaican athletic icon, with eight Olympic gold medals to his name,...

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