Usain Bolt has blamed his failed spell in the A-League on the poor quality of the competition and admitted signing for Central Coast Mariners was ‘a mistake’.
The track and field legend completed a shock move to the Mariners four years ago as he pursued his dream to play soccer professionally after quitting athletics in 2017.
The Jamaican played two pre-season games for Central Coast and even found the back of the net twice, but quit his trial in November 2018 after rejecting a one-season deal.
‘I made a mistake,’ Bolt said in an interview ahead of last month’s UNICEF Soccer Aid charity match.
‘When I retired from track and field, I didn’t want to stay in Europe because of the media. I went to Australia, but the level of football there wasn’t good. I should have stayed in Europe.
‘After a year of trials I just said, you know what, let’s just move on from that. So I moved on.’
At the time of Bolt’s departure from the Mariners, financial reasons were highlighted as the main factor behind his decision to leave the A-League.
The Mariners had reportedly tabled an $150,000-a-year offer, a world away from the $3million sum Bolt’s agent was understood to be looking for.
For his part, the eight-time Olympic medallist admitted he had found professional soccer harder than he had expected as he reflected on his experience at the Mariners.
His stance, however, significantly changed two years ago when he lamented not ‘getting a fair chance’ during his trial with Central Coast. Bolt’s most recent remarks upped the ante even further and prompted a swift backlash from several Australian soccer pundits.
‘This is laughable from Usain Bolt,’ Fox Sports News football reporter James Dodd tweeted.
‘I was there reporting and watching his training sessions at the Mariners. He was garbage. He’s a Sunday league footballer at very best and not a good one either.’
SEN and 10 Football host Simon Hill added: ‘Well, it certainly wasn’t good when he was playing, that’s for sure.
‘Brilliant athlete, but nowhere near a pro footballer. Thank goodness these sorts of PR stunts are long gone.’
A-League journalist Sacha Pisani struck a similar tone, joking Bolt ‘thinks he’s Cristiano Ronaldo’.
Bolt’s spell with the Mariners may have briefly catapulted the A-League into the spotlight, but it was ultimately an ill-advised move for all the interested parties.