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Usain Bilts at this week's Mariners press confernce. Usain Bilts at this week's Mariners press confernce. Featured
22 August 2018 Posted by 

FOOTBALL'S ALWAYS BEEN MY PASSION

DONE DEAL - Bolt lands on Coast
TERRY COLLINS
THE cynics said it was a publicity stunt, the naysayers said it would never happen, and the soccer purists weren’t even sure they WANTED it to happen.


But it’s a done deal - Usain Bolt is on the Central Coast and took part in his first training session with the Central Coast Mariners on Tuesday, his 32nd birthday, at the beginning of an indefinite trial period with the club.
 
Bolt entered the field in full training gear topped with a thick jacket and gloves, which he shed during the session, admitting later with his trademark grin that the Aussie winter was a bit of a shock to his system.
 
“But soon it will be getting warmer and then I will be in my element,” he told a packed media conference at Central Coast Leagues Club after training.
 
The world’s fastest man held his own during the training session, mixing it up with teammates as he stretched and ran and kicked the ball showcasing the “good left foot” he has been praised for by European clubs.
 
The dream of playing professional football is one he has harboured since his school days in Jamaica.
 
“I played keeper in primary school but as I got faster, I wanted to move more down the field,” he joked with media.
 
“In high school I played a lot of positions and ended as centre forward.”
 
Bolt abandoned the game to concentrate on his running, which led to a sterling career as an Olympic sprinter and garnered him eight gold medals over three Olympic Games.
 
But with his competitive running now behind him, the speedster has returned to his former love of football and is determined to make it as a professional player.
 
“Football has always been a passion with me,” he said. “For the last two years of my career (as a sprinter) I played six a side with friends two days every week.”
 
Bolt confirmed that he had recently had several offers from various clubs in Europe, specifically in France and Spain, but the lure of the beautiful Coast won the day.
 
“I’ve been to Australia a lot and always enjoy coming here,” he said, citing the quiet and relaxed lifestyle as a major incentive to accept the Mariners’ offer.
 
“It’s also good not to have to learn another language,” he joked. “But I am her to work hard – to make the Mariners proud and to make myself proud.”
 
With an indefinite training period on the cards, which coach Mike Mulvey says could stretch to as long as a year, Bolt is taking each day as it comes.
 
“I need to get fit and after I have trained for a while I will look at setting goals for the coming season,” he said.
 
Mulvey stressed that while the club was thrilled to have the athlete on board, he would be “just one of the lads”, receiving no special treatment.
 
A signing as a player is by no means guaranteed, with Bolt having to prove his mettle before talk of a contract.
 
“The club was at a point where we needed to be innovative and creative,” Mulvey said, adding that having Bolt here was a step in that direction.
 
“This guy’s a winner, a fantastic athlete, with great mental strength which could be great for all the lads.”
 
And Bolt is more than satisfied with that.
 
“I am grateful to the Mariners for this opportunity and I am keen to show what I can do and be one of the boys,” he said.
 
“I like new challenges and so far I have had a warm welcome but it is one step at a time.”
 
Bolt dismissed rumours that his trial was nothing more than a publicity stunt.
 
“All through my career there has been a lot said about me – people will say what they want to say. But this is about achieving my goal of playing with a top team.”
 
It doesn’t end there - Bolt’s ultimate dream is to play for Manchester United.
 
“I am a huge Manchester fan and would love to play for them – even for just one game,” he said with a grin.
 
In the meantime, Bolt is searching for the ideal place to live on the Coast and says fans shouldn’t be shy to say hello if they see him out and about.
 
“It’s all about the fans – they play sports what it is,” he said. “I am happy to say hi and pose for pictures – often people just want to have a conversation and I am open to that.”

 



editor

Michael Walls
Publisher
P: 0407 783 413
E: Michael@accessnews.com.au

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