Usain Bolt has been training for some time to make a professional soccer debut. Finally he’s done it, and in striking style.
Playing in a friendly for Australian club Central Coast Mariners, Bolt started at forward and scored twice in Friday’s 4-0 victory against Macarthur South West United.
“It was brilliant,” Bolt, 32, said afterward. “It took a lot of weight off my shoulders. [It took] that first goal to relax you because I missed an earlier chance. It was a great feeling. I was happy about it.”
Already this year, the world’s fastest man has trained with Norwegian club Stromsgodset, German club Borussia Dortmund and South African club Sundowns.
He told Stromsgodset fans in a Facebook Live interview in May that he was passionate about soccer and serious about trying to make a professional squad after retiring from running in 2017.
He repeated the same sentiment Friday after his two-goal performance.
“All I can do is do what I wanted to do, prove myself,” he said. “They’ve seen what I’m capable of, how I am training; they need to analyze and determine if I’m good enough for the club.”
Wearing No. 95, short for his world-record 9.58-second pace in the 100 meters, his match didn’t get off to the most auspicious start.
Within the first 15 minutes, the Jamaican sprinter struggled with positioning and competing for balls. In the 14th minute, the 6-foot-5 Bolt lost a header to a much smaller defender and took a cleat to the groin in the process.
But by the 21st minute, he looked comfortable on the ball and even took on defenders in the attacking box. In the 40th minute, he headed a promising cross inches wide of the post.
“The coach told me, ‘You will get chances. Don’t get frustrated if you miss, it’s a part of the game. You got to continue pushing till you get those chances,’” Bolt said. “I need more games to get better and to know where to be.”
His attack came together in the 57th minute when he collected a through ball just outside the 18-yard box, took his defender wide and smacked a left-footed shot past the keeper.
Ten minutes later, he tapped in another goal when the Macarthur South West keeper and a defender misplayed a ball and knocked one another over.
It’s a promising professional debut for Bolt, who with his tall and lean frame and world-class speed has for years made for an interesting soccer prospect. The Mariners' next game is an A-League match on Oct. 21. It is unclear when Bolt will play next. Friday’s match was Central Coast’s final friendly of the season.
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