Sydney, Australia | AFP | Sprint legend Usain Bolt made his case for becoming a professional footballer Friday when he scored his first goals after starting up front in a pre-season game for Australia’s Central Coast Mariners.
The 100 metres world record-holder, who has been bidding for a professional contract since he retired last year, recovered from a painful kick in the groin to grab a double against Macarthur South West United in Sydney.
Bolt, 32, finished with his left foot after some slack marking on 55 minutes, celebrating with his trademark ‘Lightning Bolt’ pose in front of more than 5,000 fans — a rare turnout for a pre-season game.
The Jamaican, wearing number 95 on his shirt in a nod to his 100m world record time of 9.58secs, then capitalised on a defensive mix-up to score his second on 69 minutes before being substituted six minutes later with the score at 4-0.
It was the first game Bolt has started since joining the A-League club in August for an indefinite trial.
“I’m just happy that I got a chance and I’m proud of myself,” Bolt told host broadcaster Fox Sports after the game.
“It was a big deal… first start and scoring two goals. It was a good feeling. This is what I worked towards. I try to get better and I am on the way to doing that.”
Bolt said he had a “lot more to learn” and was keen to join the Mariners on a professional contract.
“I’m keen, that’s why I’m here to play my best and to try and get into the team,” he added.
The superstar, a massive Manchester United fan, was handed a chance to train with the A-League side for an indefinite period in order to pursue his boyhood dream of becoming a professional footballer.
Whether he signs for the Mariners appears still up in the air, but the brace bolstered his case after a difficult first-half where he missed chances and appeared to struggle with the pace and movement of the game.
“They’ve seen me in training, they’ve seen what I’m capable of and so, they need to analyse and say, ‘Is he good enough for this club?’ and they will tell me that,” Bolt told reporters after the game.
“I just did what I had to do and that’s as far as I can go.”
Recently installed coach Mike Mulvey said he was focused on the first game of the season for the Mariners, who finished bottom of the table last season, but heaped praised on the eight-time Olympic champion for his goals.
“You’ve got to be so happy for the guy, haven’t you?” Mulvey told reporters.
Bolt appeared to appeal for game time, saying he would improve as he gained more understanding of his teammates and what they wanted.
He has previously tried out with clubs in Germany, South Africa and Norway to no avail.
The Mariners have been giving him one-on-one sessions on top of the squad’s training in a bid to turn him into A-League material for when the season starts a week from now.
The Mariners will face Brisbane Roar, the club Mulvey was sacked from in 2014, in their first game next Sunday.