Bolt makes football debut, tires quickly

Usain Bolt

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On Friday, he made his professional debut, as a trialist with the Central Coast Mariners of the Hyundai A-League, the top level in Australia.

A crowd of 9,958 - around 2,500 higher than the Mariners' average home attendance last season - turned up to a preseason friendly in a regional town almost 100 kilometers north of Sydney to see a match between the A-League's lowest-ranked team and a side comprising amateur players.

Bolt's attempt to transform himself from global athletics superstar to professional football player has generated huge publicity for the struggling Mariners, who finished bottom of the 10-team A-league last season.

The Mariners already had a commanding lead when Bolt went on as a substitute in the 72nd minute - wearing the number 95 on his shirt - and easily won 6-1.

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The Jamaican initially took up a position on the left wing, but had no joy with his first touch, as the ball clipped the back of one of his colourful boots.

He got himself in the box soon after but a cross whipped in from the left went over his head. I wish I had more touches but I'm not fit yet.

Speaking after the match, Bolt said: "It was good".

The crowd of just under 10,000 gave him a loud ovation when he stepped onto the pitch, an uneasy smile on his often-beaming face.

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There's clearly still plenty of work to do for the 32-year-old if he is to earn an A-League contract, but time is on his side, with the Mariners vowing to give him as long as 12 months to get him up to speed.

The game ended 6-1 after Central Coast Select pulled a consolation goal back, but the focus from the almost 10,000 fans at the Mariners' Central Coast Stadium was firmly fixed on the former sprint star.

"It was good; it was what I expected", Bolt said.

Before Friday's outing, the last time Bolt played in a friendly match, he shared the pitch with football greats like Zinedine Zidane, Thierry Henry and Christian Vieri. He said his biggest focus now is improving his fitness.

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"He made some nice little runs, but obviously he needs to learn some more about when he should make the runs and where".

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