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Bolt lands Down Under for 'real' soccer mission

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Bolt lands Down Under for 'real' soccer mission

 

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FILE PHOTO: Eight-time Olympic champion Usain Bolt reacts as he arrives at Sydney Airport ahead of his trial at the Central Coast Mariners soccer club in Australia, August 18, 2018. AAP/Erik Anderson/via REUTERS

 

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Olympic sprint champion and aspiring footballer Usain Bolt touched down in Sydney on Saturday, declaring himself ready to prove to the world that his Australian soccer adventure is "real".

 

The eight-times Olympic gold medallist will train with Central Coast Mariners for the first time on Tuesday after being granted an open-ended trial with the struggling A-League club.

 

Draped in a Mariners scarf, Bolt arrived on a red-eye flight from Los Angeles and was greeted by a few dozen fans and a huge media pack.

 

"This is real, I've said it since my last season of track and field I want to play football, I know what I'm capable of, I know what I can do, so I'm thankful to the Mariners for giving me this opportunity to show what I'm capable of," Bolt told reporters.

 

"I always put my best foot forward and I'm just going to show the world what I'm made of."

 

The Mariners' tie-up with Bolt has proved polarising in Australia, with critics dismissing it as a publicity stunt to boost the profile of a team that has failed to make the playoffs for the last four seasons.

 

The Mariners finished bottom of the 10-team league last season and operate in one of the country's smallest soccer markets about an hour north of Sydney in eastern New South Wales state.

 

Jamaican Bolt, who retired from athletics at the world championships in London last year, has previously trained with Germany's Borussia Dortmund, South Africa's Mamelodi Sundowns and Norway's Stromsgodset in his bid to win a professional football contract.

 

His first Mariners training session will coincide with his 32nd birthday on Tuesday.

 

Despite Bolt's thin soccer pedigree, he has been welcomed with open arms by the Mariners, who have carved a huge lightning bolt on the turf of their home Central Coast stadium.

 

Bolt could play his first match on Aug. 31 against a Central Coast representative side made up of the region's top amateurs.

 

The Mike Mulvey-coached Mariners are in talks to have the trial broadcast on TV, pending Bolt's selection, local media reported.

 

Mariners CEO Shaun Mielekamp said last week that Bolt had already bought into the low-profile club's community ethos, including agreeing to live in the sleepy coastal region like his team mates, rather than in more vibrant Sydney.

 

"As you all know I love Australia, so I'm happy to call Australia home for now," said Bolt.

 

 
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-- © Copyright Reuters 2018-08-18

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Many people view this as a PR thing but, hey, if he is up to the standard, then I wish him well and hope he enjoys his stay in OZ.

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He has had numerous training opportunities with other clubs. Surely they would have a

better understanding of his talent/ability. I wish him the best but I am not expecting much.

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Usain Bolt made his debut last night playing for Central Coast Mariners, a struggling A League side, against what were basically an amateur side.

Came on as a  sub in the 74th min and did nothing to suggest he will find a first team place or is up to serious football standard.

 

However it was no surprise that 10,000 turned up.A friendly of this nature would not normally even get half that many.

My ex teamate who is a season ticket holder reported his rapport with the crowd was good,no harm done.

 

I think he has chosen the wrong code, ball in hand ,on the flanks he would be hard to catch.Ball at his feet different story

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BANGKOK 24 September 2018 18:53
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