Usain Bolt has played for a professional team in a friendly game.
The world-renowned sprinter made his debut for A-League side Central Coast Mariners on Friday, as they beat Central Coast Football 6-1 in a friendly watched by almost 10,000 fans.
Bolt, 32, came on as a second half substitute and the crowd went wild when he arrived in the 71st minute. He didn’t get too many touches of the ball but he almost scored at the back post but (no joke) he didn’t quite have the pace to get to a cross in time.
The Jamaican sprinter has been training with teams in Germany and Norway ahead of this two-week trial in Australia, and is aiming to sign a pro deal with the Central Coast Mariners.
Speaking after the game, Bolt knows he has a lot of work to do but he is feeling positive about making his debut.
“It was good. It was what I expected. The crowd gave me plenty of motivation. I think my fitness is much better than the first week since I came here. I’m grateful to the Mariners for giving me the chance,” Bolt said. “Right now I’m just trying to get used to the guys, it’s a wonderful moment, to actually get on the field and play professional football. The players have really accepted me, trying to teach me things at training, encouraging me to push myself.”
When it comes to something like this, it’s clear that Bolt wants to prove himself as a multi-talented athlete. Just like Michael Jordan did with basketball and baseball, Tim Tebow is now doing with baseball after playing American football and like Sir Ian Botham did with cricket and soccer in the past.
Yet it is tough to get past the whole ‘PR spin’ of Bolt turning up to play and getting plenty of fans to follow his every move. The cynic in me says he will continue to do this at plenty of other clubs around the world over the next 12 months, but the romantic in me hopes that Bolt will actually play in the A-League and contribute for his new team this season.
Take a look at the scenes below as Bolt came on for his first minutes for a professional team.