Olympic sprinting legend Usain Bolt has taken his first steps towards becoming a professional footballer after starting an “indefinite” trial with a top division side in Australia.
The 32-year-old is training with A-League club the Central Coast Mariners, having retired from athletics last year following an incredible career that saw him win eight gold medals across three Olympics.
Bolt, who celebrated his 32nd birthday on his first day with his new teammates, has said he will not be receiving any special treatment during his time Down Under and is committed to proving his doubters wrong.
He has long-harboured an ambition to play football professionally and has previously trained with several clubs all over the world, most notably German heavyweights Borussia Dortmund.
Speaking after his first session with the Mariners, Bolt compared the experience to his time getting into shape for major athletics events each year.
“For me it’s just like track and field,” he said.
“The first day training is always the roughest one.
“You can tell how much work you need to put in, what you need to do but it felt okay.
“I know but will take time to work and I am ready to work.
“I’m not setting myself any targets, to say ‘this is what I’m going to do’. I’m just going to put in the work.
“For me, it’s a blank slate, I’m here to learn and to get better and that’s my focus.”
The Jamaican is committed to multiple training sessions a week and has moved to Australia, having turned down offers from clubs in Europe.
He said he was keen to start his football career somewhere where there would not be a language barrier, and he was keen to repay the faith shown in him by the two-time A-League Premiership winners.
Coach Mike Mulvey – who began his football career as a youth player at Bolt’s beloved Manchester United – said he was delighted to welcome the athlete to the New South Wales club.