The name Usain Bolt is one that needs no introduction. It is hard to talk about sprinting and speed without paying tribute to Bolt—there was even an animation about racing titled bolt.
Dubbed the ‘fastest man in the world’, Usain Bolt made several appearances in TV commercials where his speed was mostly put to test against the product from the advertising brand. The eight-time Olympic champion set records and broke a few of his own during his time on the track.
Bolt holds the world record for 100m (9.58) and 200m (19.19) dashes. At the peak of his career, most athletes will only aim for a second spot any time they are paired with Bolt.
However, he quit the track at 34 years in a surprise move to soccer. What started as a mere dream and speculation eventually morphed into reality.
After quitting the track, Bolt did not hide his intention of giving soccer a try. In fact, at one point, he offered to play for Manchester United if he was given a chance.
What the Olympic gold medalist did not understand was that soccer was nothing like sprinting. Although sprinting is part of soccer, you need more than just good speed to become a successful soccer player.
Did Usain Bolt play soccer? Which team did he play for? Is he still actively playing soccer? Was he successful in soccer like he was on the track?
Today, we are going to zoom in on this athlete and tell you all you need to know about his soccer career.
Does Usain Bolt play soccer?
While Usain Bolt’s stint with soccer was a media sensation, what many did not know was that Bolt received numerous offers from NFL teams after quitting the tracks.
He revealed this to the Los Angeles Times in 2019 stating that he was offered to play the wide receiver role after the 2008 and 2012 Olympics when he was 22 and 26 years respectively.
However, he was scared of the sport at that time because of how rough he thought it was. Consequently, he turned down the offers. By the time he retired from sprinting, he said he was too old for football.
Bolt hung his boots from track activities in 2017 just before turning 33 years old in August. Eventually, he chose soccer over football and trained with the Central Coast Mariners in Australia in 2018.
It was a mixed reaction for soccer fans when Bolt chose to start his soccer career in Australia rather than in Europe. However, Bolt had his reasons for choosing to play in Australia rather than in Europe.
According to him, he didn’t want the media attention in Europe which was likely inevitable due to his status and fame. Therefore, he decided to go as far away as possible from that eventuality.
However, looking back, he believes staying in Europe would have been a better decision for him. According to him, if he had stayed in Europe and trained with Borussia Dortmund in Germany and Strømsgodset Toppfotball in Norway, he would have had a better chance of meeting coaches that would “understand and teach him more”.
Interestingly, Bolt enjoyed a couple of playing hours in front of a large audience in his short stint with soccer.
He featured Strømsgodset in a friendly match with the Norwegian under-19 national team in 2018. He got 20 minutes in the game and a glaring header which he failed to convert.
Bolt was also part of a UK charity celebrity match called Soccer Aid. He scored a decent offside goal, hit the crossbar on another occasion, and slotted home a penalty.
With the Central Coast Mariners, he scored another interesting goal and a tap-in during a training match. Eventually, he was offered a contract.
Sadly, Bolt and the club could not agree on financial terms leading to the breakdown of the entire deal. According to reports, Bolt was offered a $150,000 deal by the Central Coast Mariners—the same club that hosted his two-month trial.
Part of the reason why the deal failed to pull through was that both sides were looking for “a commercial partner that will enable them to increase the offer” which they failed to get.
While holding out for a deal with Mariners, Valletta FC of Malta offered Bolt a two-year deal which he rejected. The reason for rejecting the contract was because his wage demand was too much for the club to afford.
EA Sports had already concluded plans on adding Bolt to the FIFA 19 winter update if the deal with Mariners pulled through. In 2019, Bolt took part in Soccer Aid again and scored a screamer.
Bolt believes he didn’t get as much respect in Australia as he would have if he remained in Europe. By November 2018, Bolt gave himself a two-week ultimatum to find a new soccer team or quit entirely.
He never found a new soccer team and two months later (in early 2019), the sprinter announced his retirement from “all sport”.
Why did Usain Bolt decide to play soccer?
Usain Bolt revealed that while he was still an active sprinter, he always watched the matches of his favorite team, Manchester United. Consequently, he felt that he could do better than some of the players playing at the professional level—although he refused to mention the names of the players he felt he could play better than.
While Usain Bolt believes he would have had better success if he played in Europe as against playing in Australia, Vicente del Bosque, Spanish soccer manager, thinks the problem may have been with the role he decided to play rather than the club he chose to play for.
In an interview with Olympic Channel, del Bosque suggested that Bolt would have had better success if he had played as a full-back rather than an attacking winger.
Why did Bolt fail as a soccer player?
Since 2018, a lot of interest has shifted to really fast soccer players and we can see the likes of Adama Traore, Erling Haaland, Kylian Mbappe, and Pierre-Emeric Aubameyang—just to mention a few—becoming indispensable assets for their teams. So, why did the world’s fastest man fail to secure a pro contract?
Well, in all the matches that Bolt featured, one thing was clear, he lacked the basic techniques and finishing skills required of a soccer player in his role. To get there, he needed more game intelligence and more match fitness.
Sadly, age was no longer on his side to acquire the desired experience. In addition to that, not many soccer clubs will want to give a 33-year-old a chance to play in their team, talk more of the one with no prior soccer experience.
Again, soccer was nothing like sprinting on the tracks. While Bolt was expected to explode in less than 20 seconds in the 100m dash, he was expected to last for up to 90 minutes on a soccer pitch.
Regardless of his inability to secure a pro contract, Bolt said “it was a good experience”. According to him, the feeling of being part of a team was different from the solo experience of the track—and “it was fun while it lasted”.
What is Usain Bolt doing after quitting soccer?
Since quitting soccer, Bolt has decided to focus on his family and building businesses. In May 2020, Bolt became a father to a lovely baby girl called Olympia Lightning Bolt.
In Jamaica, Bolt runs a chain of restaurants. He has also been caught DJing in nightclubs in Kingston, the capital of Jamaica.
Bolt is also exploring his talent in music with the release of a new track from an upcoming EP in early 2021. He worked with his friend and manager Nugent ‘NJ’ Walker to deliver the song titled “Living the Dream”.
Bolt is not only aiming to “dominate the Jamaican market but also to get into the international market”. While he has not been able to achieve this dream with his music career by the end of 2021, he has been able to market another of his products globally.
Usain Bolt is the co-founder of a micro-mobility platform called Bolt Mobility. The Miami-based company acquired Last Mile Holdings assets which enabled them to expand to 48 new markets by January 2021.
The company was able to rebound from the COVID-19 disruption of 2020 by making tweaks to their business model including the introduction of scooters with dual brakes, LED lights, 10-inch wheels, interchangeable batteries and can go 25 miles on a single charge.
The combination of a 1.95m and an average speed of 37.58 km/h (and a peak speed of 44.72 km/h) gives Usain Bolt a clear advantage over most other soccer players if his pro-soccer career ever became a reality.
However, his failure to secure a contract is a sign that soccer is nothing like sprinting where speed is everything. In addition to speed, you need the right technique, fitness, and attitude to succeed as a soccer player.
While Bolt was bold enough to give soccer a try regardless of his age, one message that his failed trial can pass to aspiring soccer players is the need to start early.
Perhaps, Bolt would have been a better success story if only he started his soccer career on time rather than waiting until he turned 32. Regardless, we admire his versatility and the zeal to explore every part of his physical and creative talent.
So, next time you are watching your favorite team playing and think there is a player that doesn’t deserve to be on the team because you believe you can play better than him or her, remember that the world fastest man failed to secure a professional soccer contract.
Soccer feels easier when you are watching on the screen but it is definitely a different experience when you step onto the field.
Hi there, I’m Jay.
Soccer is everything in my life! My friends and I have created this blog with all our enthusiasm, passion, and understanding after years of playing pro soccer. Hope you will enjoy it!