Usain Bolt enjoyed a few touches and 20 minutes on the park as the Central Coast Mariners played a season-opening friendly on Friday.
The A-League club faced a local team of amateurs in Gosford, with around 10 000 fans coming out to see the Jamaican superstar earn his first stripes in professional football.
The Mariners – who finished bottom of the league last season – were up 5-0 at half-time with Bolt still watching from the bench.
The tracksuit came off late in the second half, the crowd stirred and the eight-time Olympic gold medalist finally ran on the pitch on the left wing. Soon enough, chants of ‘Usain Bolt’ rang around the stadium.
— Central Coast Mariners (@CCMariners) August 31, 2018
There was an awkward moment when the former sprinter ran over to an official to removed his gold chain, as jewelry is not allowed in football.
Bolt had a golden chance to get on the scoreboard when a ball was whipped across goal and he was unmarked at the back post, but was too slow to react as the ball cleared the danger area.
Otherwise, Bolt was a presence, getting around four touches and leaping for a few headers.
At the final whistle, the Mariners and fans celebrated a 6-1 victory. Just like the track, Bolt did a subtle lap of honour to acknowledge the fans.
“It was good…it was what I expected,” the 32-year-old is quoted as saying by the Mariners twitter account.
“The crowd gave me plenty of motivation. I think my fitness is much better, that the first week since I came here. I’m grateful to the Mariners for giving me the chance.
“Right now I’m just trying to get used to the guys, it’s a wonderful moment, to actually get on the field and play professional football.
“The players have really accepted me, trying to teach me things at training, encouraging me to push myself.”
Look who's made his debut in professional football… ⚡️⚽️
— FIFA.com (@FIFAcom) August 31, 2018
Mariners coach Mike Mulvey wasn’t blown away by Bolt’s performance and he certainly has work to do if he is going to force his way into the squad come October.
“[Bolt] didn’t disgrace himself…he showed he’s got some skills out there, he did okay,” said Mulvey.