Usain Bolt began his indefinite trial with an Australian professional soccer team on his 32nd birthday on Tuesday. And that, he insists, is proof that his new career is legitimate.
“People always gonna say what they want to say,” Bolt said when asked about those who call it “a gimmick.” “Just like when I was in track and field, people say a lot of things about me, but I always prove them wrong. It’s just another moment for me to prove them wrong. … I don’t care what people say.”
Bolt is training with the Central Coast Mariners, the last-place team in Australia’s top division.
His goal is to earn a contract with the club, whose league season begins in two months. His dream is to one day play for Manchester United.
“For me it’s just like track and field,” Bolt said. “The first day of training is always the roughest one. You can tell how much work you need to put in, what you need to do. But it felt OK. I know it’s going to take time and work, and I’m ready to work.”
Bolt said he turned down offers from teams in France and Spain, but not in the top division. He prefers Australia, where he doesn’t have to learn a language.
“The coach has explained to me that there won’t be any special treatment,” said Bolt, who fancies himself a winger or center forward and has to work on “the basic skills.” “They will treat me just like a footballer should be treated. … I don’t want to be treated like I’m the world’s fastest man.”
Central Coast Mariners coach Mike Mulvey said Bolt should be ready to play in a preseason match against local players on Aug. 31, but he doesn’t want to rush.
“If it takes 12 months, I’m happy for him to be here,” Mulvey said. “He’s already brought the biggest throng of media to this area. The highlight, the spotlight is on Central Coast.”
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