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Bolt left on bench as footballing career stutters

CHALLENGING: Usain Bolt

USAIN BOLT's desired career change from Olympic sprinter to a professional footballer was given a reality check when he became an unused substitute for Australian top flight side Central Coast Mariners on Friday.

The 32-year-old Jamaican icon was left on the bench for their friendly at Wollongong Wolves as the A-League outfit - where he is a trialist - stormed to a 3-1 success.

He had been named in the squad, which appeared to simply help sell tickets, but only 3,000 fans turned up. And many would surely have been disappointed not to see Bolt make a cameo appearance.

Bolt at least finished on the winning side at the WIN Stadium courtesy of goals from Michael McGlinchey, Connor Pain and Matt Simon.

But with the season kicking off in a fortnight's time then things are not looking brilliant for Bolt.

He has only made one appearance on the pitch for Mariners, a modest 18-minute substitute role during the 6-1 mauling of an amateur team in August.

On his debut it was clear that his match fitness and technical ability were seriously lagging.

And with Mariners having finished rock-bottom of the A-League last term, Mike Mulvey has been brought in as coach to shake things up.

Mulvey, a former A-League champion, has recently made some astute signings and then followed these up with a stern announcement that he will make a decision around Christmas time as to whether he wants to sign Bolt.

Yet Bolt is a more marketable commodity off the pitch than on it, although his agent is demanding a highly lucrative contract for him to play for Mariners. However, the proposed lucrative contract would need to be subsidised by the A-League governing body of Football Federation Australia if Bolt signed for a season.

The harsh reality is that Bolt may be the fastest sprinter ever, but he is no great footballer - as failed trials in Germany, South Africa and Norway have proved. And Jamaica's national team are not showing any interest in getting him involved on the pitch.

Bolt, who repeatedly declares that he wants no special treatment from the Mariners, remains enthusiastic and ambitious.

He said: "I‘ve always said that one of my all-time best moments is running the 4×100m, so for me to come into a team is wonderful.

“There‘s going to be a lot of banter and a lot of fun, but I'm learning right now."

For Bolt to not get any match time minutes seems harsh considering the hype about Friday's friendly after he was named in the squad.

Considering that when he made his debut for the Mariners he helped boost the ticket sales to just under 10,000, then the initial novelty of Bolt being involved may be beginning to wane already

He is now in a desperate race to prove to Mulvey that he has the ability and drive to earn a professional contract Down Under. And the club also need to improve their hype, to sell tickets, of having the eight-time Olympic champion in their ranks otherwise Bolt will be history.

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