Former Mariners trialist Bolt calls time on footballing dream
After capturing the attention of sports fans around the world in the Hyundai A-League’s pre-season, former Central Coast Mariners trialist Usain Bolt has announced he has given up on his dream of becoming a professional footballer.
Bolt became global news when he began a two-month trial in Gosford last year but the sprint sensation walked away in November after failing to reach a deal with the Mariners.
He appeared in two televised friendlies for Mike Mulvey’s side and scored an impressive double in a 4-0 win against Macarthur South West United in Campbelltown in October.
While it led to suggestions Bolt could win a contract, the parties were unable to agree on terms on a contract.
The eight-time Olympic gold medallist has long held a dream to play football professionally, previously training with Norwegian team Stromsgodset and German giants Borussia Dortmund.
He also reportedly rejected a two-year contract offer from Maltese club Valletta FC last year.
Now Bolt has decided to end his dream of becoming a professional footballer, with the Jamaican confirming his "sports life is over".
“I don't want to say it wasn't dealt with properly, but I think we went about it, not the way we should and you learn your lesson, you live and you learn," Bolt said.
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"It was a good experience. I really enjoyed just being in a team and it was different from track and field and it was fun while it lasted.
“I'm just doing many different things - the sports life is over, so I'm now moving into different businesses,” Bolt added.
“I have a lot of things in the pipeline, so as I say, I'm just dabbling in everything and trying to be a business man now."
A timeline of Bolt’s Mariners trial
- August 18: After news broke in mid-July of a potential trial with the Mariners, Bolt landed in Australia the following month with hundreds of fans present at Sydney Airport. His arrival proved an instant hit - with the charismatic Olympic champion fronting the press and posing for numerous photos with fans.
- August 21: Bolt’s first training session with the club came just three days later at Central Coast Stadium. A huge media contingent were on hand to watch the short and light session, which was broadcast live on Fox Sports News.
- August 31: He made his Mariners debut on a Friday night, playing the last 20 minutes in a 6-1 friendly win over a Central Coast Select side, with almost 10,000 fans in attendance. He came close to a dream goal in stoppage time after bursting toward the back post but was unable to connect with a cross from the opposite flank.
- September 25: Bolt took another step in his trial, completing 45 minutes in a behind-closed-doors friendly against North Shore Mariners.
- October 12: The highlight of Bolt’s time with the Mariners, scoring a brace in their 4-0 friendly win over Macarthur South West United. Playing in attack alongside Ross McCormack and Tommy Oar, Bolt had Campbelltown Stadium rocking when he lashed home a tidy left-footed finish early in the second half before capping an eventful night when he capitalised on a horror Macarthur mix up at the back and fired into an empty net minutes before being substituted in the 75th minute to a rapturous reception.
- October 23: After plenty of speculation, the Mariners confirmed they had offered Bolt a playing contract, with both the club and the Olympic champion's management team in negotiations.
- November 2: The Bolt experiment comes to an end, with the Mariners and Bolt’s team citing an inability to come to a “suitable deal” with the Jamaican in a “timely manner”.
Bolt’s impact on the Hyundai A-League
The sprint kings desire to make it as a professional footballer with the Mariners had a mixed response from the outset.
While some people criticised the move, others praised it.
But there’s no doubt Bolt’s star power and reach caught the attention around the world, giving the Hyundai A-League global headlines.
According to Mariners media reports, news of his impending trial with the club travelled to a global audience of almost 200 million people.
That exposure held a value to the tune of $9 million, which was before Bolt even arrived in Gosford.
His two-goal performance against Macarthur South West United was viewed almost 10 million times on Twitter (between the Hyundai A-League and Central Coast Mariners accounts), with a reach of over 100 million.