Superstar sprinter Usain Bolt has long coveted turning out for Manchester United – and his debut as a soccer player has underscored his dream.
Bolt, who shattered world records and won eight Olympic sprint titles in a glittering career, netted twice on his debut for Central Coast Mariners in Australia.
Despite his performance in a friendly, the club has not offered a contract.
But a Maltese club chasing European glory, Valletta FC, headed the queue to sign him.
Bolt has turned down the chance to play for the minnow side.
“Usain does not wish to pursue this Malta opportunity,” said his agent.
No contract offer
“There is a lot of interest in Usain playing football. We regularly receive similar approaches.”
Although he is super fit and has a pedigree as a champion athlete, Bolt’s dream of playing for Manchester United is never likely to happen.
The club has yet to comment about the sprinter’s hopes, but at 32 years old, Bolt is past his prime as a soccer player and would have a lot to learn about competing with the world’s top players in the English Premier League.
Many soccer stars have spent almost a decade performing at the top level at Bolt’s age and are looking forward to retirement.
Bolt may have a future in Australia, but the outcome seems to depend on money.
The sprinter is thought to be demanding AUS$3 million for a contract, but the club cannot afford the outlay and are hoping Football Federation Australia will contribute to tie Bolt into a public relations coup for the national league.
Athletes crossing sport frontiers
Mariners coach Mike Mulvey does not want to talk about Bolt and explains he is not involved in negotiations over the finances for the deal.
“I’m really not interested in contract speculation to tell you the truth,” he said.
“He’s been great among the guys and I was happy for him last week with the two goals he scored, but we move on.”
Athletes do cross sports, perhaps the most prominent soccer personality to do so is Luis Enrique, current national team manager for Spain and former Real Madrid and Barcelona star from the 1990s.
He ran marathons and competed in triathlons after hanging up his boots.
Other soccer players have switched to specialist kicker roles in American Football, while cricketer Ian Botham played professional football for Scunthorpe United.