If you’d already proved yourself the best in the world at something (and retired), would you sit back on your spikes, lighting Cuban cigars with hundred dollar bills and bask in your own reflected glory? Or would you, already past your prime, try to “go pro” in one of your hobbies?
No brainer, right? Right. Unless you’re Usain Bolt. The Olympic sprinter apparently never tires of a challenge (and self confidence), and is looking to add an A League trophy (or at least, stint) to his gold-medal-drenched resumé, with Australia’s Central Coast Mariners.
Bolt is currently negotiating with the Central Coast club to take part in a six-week trial that could potentially see him signed for a full season, Mariners chief executive Shaun Mielekamp revealed on Sunrise this morning.
“If all goes well, who knows, he might be lighting up the A-League this season.”
Although Tony Rallis, Bolt’s agent told Channel Nine Bolt’s best, “Will be enough to play or play a part in an A-League competition,” Mielekamp, the Mariners’ chief executive, told Sunrise they must establish “how good he is as a footballer” before inking any deals.
The upshot? The deal between the Mariners and Usain Bolt is set, subject to his trial and marquee funds support from the FFA (football federation Australia). ‘‘Once the FFA comes back and says that they’ll be part of the process, we’re going to the trial,’’ Rallis reportedly told Channel Nine.
— Sunrise (@sunriseon7) 16 July 2018
The question now on everyone’s lips is: is he good enough? Sure, he’ll still be fast—maybe even the A League’s version of Mbappe—but a striker only puts fear in the heart of defenders by clinically finishing chances. It’s no use Bolt getting on the end of a through ball, only to get it caught under his legs and misfire.
The fact that this isn’t his first rodeo (in May, Bolt trained with Norwegian team Stromsgodset, and in March trialled with German side Borussia Dortmund) could be a good sign; a club of the quality of Dortmund wouldn’t waste their time on someone with no technical skills. However, it could also mean he is lacking in that very department, as neither of those clubs looked to sign him (and clearly the A League is a step down from the Bundesliga).
While it’s tempting to say the Mariners wouldn’t be trialling him if he didn’t have potential, the controversy then becomes: is it a marketing gimmick, or do they really believe Bolt could become a first team staple? Only time will tell.
For Bolt though, it’s not a bad way to challenge himself, without damaging his track legacy. In that sense he has nothing to lose: If he fails as a soccer player it doesn’t reflect badly on his success as a sprinter—a vastly different discipline. If he succeeds, he gets lauded as a multi-curricula genius. Either way: keep your eyes peeled.