Usain Bolt’s dream of becoming a professional footballer has moved a step closer after earning an “indefinite” trial at Central Coast Mariners.
The eight-time Olympic champion has expressed his desire to move into football following his retirement from athletics and will train with the A-League side to try and earn a contract.
The 31-year-old has already trained with several clubs around the world, including Borussia Dortmund, Stromgodset and Mamelodi Sundowns, but his stint in Australia looks to be his best chance of winning a deal.
He said on Central Coast Mariners’ official website: “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.
“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.
“I always say that, ‘Anything is possible, don’t think limits’, and I look forward to the challenge.”
The Mariners have insisted that the extended trial is not a commitment to a contract, but want to give the Jamaican a chance.
They said in a statement: “The Central Coast Mariners can today confirm that Usain Bolt has committed to an indefinite training period with the club, with the aim to develop the ‘world’s fastest man’ into a professional footballer.
“The agreement between the Central Coast Mariners and Usain Bolt does not guarantee a professional playing contract but does provide the eight-time Olympic gold medallist with an opportunity to achieve his burning desire to play football professionally.”
Chief executive Shaun Mielekamp added: “Our goal is to be the most innovative, entertaining and community minded sports brand in Australia, this is our competitive edge.
“Having Usain Bolt come to the club to train and hopefully develop into a professional football player is perfectly aligned to this part of the club’s philosophy.
“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.
“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 Mariners begin their A-League campaign in October.
With the rumours growing in pace and volume during this ‘silly season’, it can be difficult and painstaking to separate the stories of some legitimacy from the rest of the noise.
Fortunately, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to do it for you.
Below, you’ll find some of the latest transfer news churned out of our rumours and analysed for your benefit along with our calculated predictions.
Why it will happen: The Croatia World Cup midfielder is desperate to leave Santiago Bernabeu and secure regular first-team football next season. A switch to Stamford Bridge could work very well and see Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois head in the opposite direction.
Why it won’t happen: As of yet, the Blues link is just speculation and if it has come about because of Courtois, there could be more to it than meets the eye. Expect a tense couple of days ahead.
Prediction: Kovacic has effectively gone AWOL at Madrid, so will surely jump at the chance of a new challenge.
Manchester United playmaker Juan Mata has apparently been offered to Serie A giants Inter Milan.
Why it will happen: The Nerazzurri are hoping to strengthen their midfield this summer and a man of Mata’s experience would fit the bill.
Why it won’t happen: The 30-year-old Spaniard has one more year remaining on his Old Trafford deal and will want to see that out, and then fight for an extension.
Prediction: Having played a significant part in the Red Devils’ pre-season, it looks unlikely Mata will be sold at such late notice.
Real Madrid defender Theo Hernandez’s loan move to Real Sociedad is almost done, with the two clubs expected to thrash out the formalities of the arrangement this week.
Why it will happen: This deal has been in the making all summer and the loan arrangement seems to benefit all parties.
Why it won’t happen: Given the former Atletico Madrid man served as understudy to Marcelo last term, the Whites could be short in the full-back area should the Brazilian pick up an injury and may decide to keep Hernandez as a result.
Prediction: Expect the 20-year-old to chalk up valuable first-team minutes in San Sebastian next season.
The 24-year-old Croatian World Cup star is seeking a move from the Bernabeu this summer in the hope of more first-team football, despite the fact new Los Blancos boss Julen Lopetegui wants to keep him at the club.
Manchester United have also been linked with Kovacic but it now appears the Stamford Bridge club are leading the race to clinch his signature ahead of Thursday’s transfer deadline.
Meanwhile, it has been suggested that this deal could act as a sweetener between the two clubs, given Thibaut Courtois is likely to head in the opposite direction.