Why Usain Bolt’s Dream of Becoming a Professional Footballer Never Came to Pass

Why Usain Bolt’s Dream of Becoming a Professional Footballer Never Came to Pass

Martin Moses
June 8, 2023 at 12:38 PM
  • Usain Bolt was keen on being a professional footballer after retiring from athletics in 2017
  • He won everything there was to be won in sprints and he felt he had more to offer in sports
  • Although his career in football never came into being, Bolt still competes in charity games

In another lifetime, Usain Bolt would have been known for two things - sprinting and being a professional footballer. The former requires no introduction, as it is the sport that elevated him to legendary status worldwide.

He retired from running in 2017, having dominated for nine consecutive years, with the Jamaican winning 8 Olympic gold medals and 11 world titles during that time.

Noah Lyles, Atlanta City Games, Manchester United, Usain Bolt, Ferdinand Omanyala
Usain Bolt celebrates after winning the men's 200m during the London Olympics in 2012. Photo by Clive Brunskill.
Source: Getty Images

What's more, he is still the reigning world record-holder in the 100-metre, 200-metre, and 4 by 100-metre relay races.

Bolt was 30 years when he decided he had seen enough in the track and field events. Given that professional athletes still going strong until they are at least 40, many wondered why the pacey Jamaican retired so early.

Apart from the hamstring injury he suffered in 2017, perhaps he was also a subscriber to the notion that a good dancer knows when to exit the stage.

Or maybe there is more to the story.

Bolt dreamed of playing football

Bolt was adamant about pursuing another goal of his - that of becoming a professional footballer.

"It's a personal goal. I don't care what people really think about it. It's a dream; it's another chapter of my life that I really want to do. If you have a dream or something you really want to do, you want to try to see where it could go," he said previously, as quoted by GMS.

The staunch Manchester United fan was handed a two-day trial period with German side, Borussia Dortmund after training with South African heavyweights, Mamelodi Sundowns as a striker.

Dortmund made the fastest human being ever face a harsh reality at the end of the trial period.

"If he wants to make it at the highest level, he still has a lot of work to do. At his age, there is not that much room for development," then-coach, Peter Stoger said.

Bolt and Central Coast Mariners

After Dortmund's rejection, Bolt tried his luck with Australian side, Central Coast Mariners, still determined to make it work. His pace remained devastating on the football pitch and he scored two goals during a pre-season friendly.

Mariners handed an official contract to Bolt, although their manager, Mike Mulvey denied any knowledge of such a deal. Talks eventually broke down after it became apparent the club could not match the €3 million wages he wanted.

He left the club in November 2018 and around two months later, announced that he had given up on his dream of turning pro.

During his time in Australia, the father of three had continuously expressed optimism about how his game was improving.

"I think I’ve improved in every area. I think my touch is a little bit better; my vision needs to improve a little bit more. I think my running off the ball is where I’ve improved most," he said, as quoted by the Guardian.

He was roundly criticised during his trial period, most notably by former Ireland national, Andy Keogh, who blasted his first touch of the ball.

Bolt returning to athletics?

The 11-time World Champion gave up his football dream and concentrated on family time until recently, when he declared his intentions to return to track and field.

Sports Brief reported that Bolt desired an athletics return and showed interest in helping revive a sport he claimed had undergone a decline since he called it quits.

The 2012 Diamond League champion stated charisma and enthusiasm had been sucked out of the game and felt he could use his influence on the sidelines for good.

Martin Moses photo
Martin Moses
Editor- EPL I Serie A