Usain Bolt‘s bid for a pro soccer contract with an Australian club has ended.
Bolt and the Central Coast Mariners could not agree to a deal. The A-League club announced Friday that contract talks are over.
The Mariners offered Bolt a contract last month, at the end of his tryout deal, but said that they likely needed more money from an external party for Bolt to sign.
“There was a gap that we needed to try to fill, and in the time from then till now we haven’t been able to close that gap,” Mariners CEO Shaun Mielekamp said.
The club also said last month that while Bolt “made great progression” in his two months of preseason training, it “does not have the luxury” to play him in regular-season league matches.
Mielekamp declined to say Friday whether Bolt’s departure was more related to his talent or to financial terms.
“It’s more of a timing issue,” he said.
Bolt thanked the Mariners staff, players and fans in a statement.
“For making me feel so welcome during my time there. I wish the club success for the season ahead,” Bolt said.
The highlight of Bolt’s two-month stay in Gosford came Oct. 12, when he scored two goals in a friendly against a team that is not in the A-League. Bolt had said the match, his third, would determine his future after he first joined the club on an indefinite trial in hopes of getting a contract.
Mielekamp said the story of Bolt playing for last season’s last-place A-League club reached 600 million people.
“To see the footage go around the world, to have our club on the world stage and world media is something that we’ll forever be grateful for,” he said.
The eight-time Olympic champion Bolt has long harbored dreams of playing pro soccer.
Since retiring in summer 2017, he also 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.
Bolt said he turned down offers from teams in France and Spain, but not in the top division. He preferred Australia, where he didn’t have to learn a language. His long-time dream has been to play for Manchester United.
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