Usain Bolt will train indefinitely with Australian soccer club Central Coast Mariners starting later this month but is not guaranteed a contract, according to the club.
“I am very excited about coming to Australia and would like to thank the owner and management of the Central Coast Mariners for giving me this opportunity,” Bolt said in a press release. “It has been my dream to play professional football, and I know that it will involve a lot of hard work and training to get to the level required to play and make an impact in the A-League.
“When I spoke to the head coach Mike Mulvey on the phone he outlined the ambitions of the club and his plans for the upcoming season. I hope I can make a positive contribution to the club and look forward to meeting the other players, staff and fans in the coming weeks.”
It was first reported last month that Bolt agreed in principle to join the Central Coast Mariners, a team in Australia’s top division. Nothing was finalized then, and reports later surfaced that a United Soccer League team in Austin, Texas, was in talks with Bolt, too, and a USL team in Las Vegas was interested.
Now that Bolt is committed to the Australian team, it’s worth repeating that the Australian sports agent who first reported the deal last month said Bolt was set for a six-week trial.
“It is important that we don’t get too caught up in the hype of possibilities, but the reality is that Usain Bolt has placed his faith in the Central Coast Mariners to accelerate his football journey,” Central Coast Mariners CEO Shaun Mielekamp said in Tuesday’s press release. “Whilst we all know this must be tempered with the reality that there is a job to do and hard work ahead, we are committed to building a team that will win matches and instil belief, hopefully Usain can help us on this mission.”
The Central Coast Mariners, based in Gosford in New South Wales, won four matches and lost 15 last season, finishing 10th in the 10-team A-League. There is no relegation in Australian soccer.
The 2018-19 regular season starts in October.
The eight-time Olympic champion Bolt has long harbored dreams of playing pro soccer.
Since retiring last summer, the 31-year-old Jamaican has trained alongside club teams in South Africa, Jamaica and Norway, plus had a much-publicized visit with Borussia Dortmund in March. Bolt and Dortmund share an apparel sponsor in Puma.
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