Usain Bolt touches down in Sydney ahead of trial with humble Central Coast Mariners

“This is real,” said the 31-year-old amidst frenzied scenes as he arrived on Sunday.

Alex Broun 2018/08/19

Some might see it as a bizarre publicity stunt but athletics legend Usain Bolt says his plans to play for the humble Central Coast Mariners in the similarly humble Australian A-League are serious.

“This is real,” said the 31-year-old amidst frenzied scenes as he touched down in Sydney on Sunday.

“I’ve said it since my last season of track and field that I wanted to play football and I knew what I’m capable of. I know what I can do.”

Bolt’s foray into football, including previous sojourns with Borussia Dortmund and Stromsgodset in Norway, have been seen by some as nothing more than a gimmick, but the man himself insists it’s no joke.

“They (the Mariners) gave me a great opportunity and I’m really happy about it,” he continued.

“I’m just going to come here and do my best as always. I always put my best foot forward and I’m just going to show the world I’m here.”

The Mariners home ground, the Central Coast Stadium, has a capacity of just 20,059 and is a long way from the great stadiums of the world which Bolt is used to filling, but he says he feels at home in Woy Woy as much as London or Rio.

“As you all know I love Australia, so I’m happy to call Australia home for now,” Bolt told a delighted crowd.

“I’m more excited than anything else.”

The Mariners will certainly welcome the presence of the triple world record holder with attendance and interest down as the club has finished in the bottom three in the last four seasons and last in 2017/18 and 2015/16.

A far cry from their titles of 2007/08 and 2011/12, the second under now national coach Graham Arnold.

And certainly Gosford and Wyong, the central hubs of the Central Coast and just a short hour long drive north of Sydney, will welcome the exposure to promote themselves more as a tourist destination.

Bolt does not see this as a short term adventure.

Asked how long he plans to stay in the region, Bolt replied: “Forever hopefully.”

“I’m here for a trial period, but I’m going to push, work hard and show what I’m capable of. I’m sure my best foot forward will make it.”

Bolt has a little under two months to prove his worth as the Mariners’ season kicks off on Sunday October 21 when they face the Roar in Brisbane.

The Jamaican once dreamed of Olympic glory – that dream came true.

This second dream may be a little harder to achieve, especially with the whole world watching.

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A-League Borussia Dortmund Central Coast Mariners Usain Bolt