Usain Bolt insisted his goal of playing professional football was no pipe dream as he arrived in Australia for his training stint with the Central Coast Mariners.
The Jamaican touched down at Sydney International Airport on Saturday ahead of his “indefinite” trial with the A-League side. He will train with the team for the first time on Tuesday.
The eight-time Olympic champion, who retired from athletics last year, said: “This is real. I’ve told the world that I want to be a footballer and I know what I can do for the Mariners who are giving me the opportunity to show what I’m capable of.”
The 31-year-old has already trained with several clubs around the world, including Borussia Dortmund, Stromsgodset in Norway and Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa.
Wearing a Mariners scarf as he addressed waiting media at the airport, he was quoted on the Mariners website as saying: “This is a great opportunity for me.
“The Central Coast Mariners have given me a great opportunity and I’m just going to come here and do my best. I always put my best foot forward and I’m going to show the world what I’m made of.”
Asked if he was nervous, Bolt added: “Nerves are always going to be there but I’m more excited than anything else.”
The Mariners announced earlier this month that Bolt would be training with them, but emphasised the extended trial was not a commitment to a contract.
David Cooper here with our key sports headlines on Saturday.
The countdown is on in Italy with Cristiano Ronaldo set to make his competitive debut with Juventus on the opening day of the Serie A season. The Italian champions travel to Chievo (20:00 UAE start) with all eyes on the Portuguese superstar as he begins his next chapter of his career.
Read an in-depth analysis ahead of his debut here.
Over in Spain, Lionel Messi will lead Barcelona out for the first time as their permanent captain when they begin their La Liga title defence against Alaves later tonight (00:15am UAE start). Read Andy West’s talking points here.
Meanwhile in England, it’s the London derby at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea welcome Arsenal in the Premier League. The hosts are looking to make it two wins out of two while the Gunners aim to bounce back following their defeat to Manchester City.
Ben Stokes returns to the England team for today’s third Test against India at Trent Bridge. Having won at Edgbaston and Lord’s, a victory in Nottingham will all but seal the Test series for the hosts.
Al Wasl have reiterated that Fabio de Lima is not for sale, amid interest from Saudi Arabian clubs for the Brazilian striker. Read more on that story here.
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The French midfielder was unveiled to the media on Thursday and is relishing the opportunity of testing himself in the Italian top-flight.
Watch below on what the 29-year-old World Cup winner said: