Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 February 2020

Usain Bolt offered two year contract by Valletta FC - the Maltese club owned by UAE-based investors

Olympic great has been on trial at A-League club Central Coast Mariners but a full-time deal is yet to be agreed

Usain Bolt, right, has been on trial at Australian club Central Coast Mariners in recent weeks. Getty Images
Usain Bolt, right, has been on trial at Australian club Central Coast Mariners in recent weeks. Getty Images

Jamaican sprinting superstar Usain Bolt has been offered a two-year professional contract by Maltese club Valletta FC, who are majority owned by a group of UAE-based investors.

Bolt, 32, has been on trial with A-League club, Central Coast Mariners, since arriving in Australia in August as he bids to pursue a boyhood dream of becoming a footballer since retiring from athletics last year.

The 100-metre world record-holder scored his first two goals in professional football on Friday when he started a pre-season game against second-tier Macarthur South West United in Sydney.

Maltese club Valletta FC said they had made a formal offer which includes playing in their upcoming cup final, with chief executive Ghasston Slimen saying the move to snare Bolt was "about writing history".


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"Usain Bolt broke the record in Beijing in 2008, and I have followed him for the last year-and-a-half on his football journey," Slimen told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

"We play the final of the Super Cup on December 13, which we will win ... so can you imagine Usain Bolt lifting the Super Cup trophy 10 years after he broke the record in Beijing?

"This isn't about money, this is about history. This is something that they will talk about in 50 or 100 years' time."

A group of investors from the Abu Dhabi-based Sanban Group acquired a majority stake in the club last month, vowing to qualify for the group stages of the Uefa Champions League.

UAE ties with Valletta extend back to before the Sanban Group takeover, when in 2014 Hamid Al Kamali became the first Emirati to appear in the Champions League while on loan from Al Wahda.

Slimen said Bolt still had to improve his footballing skills, but said he was inspired by the former sprinter's jubilant celebrations - including the trademark lightning bolt victory pose - after the goals.

"I don't want him to be here on holiday, I want him training hard," he said, adding that he wanted Bolt to be lifting trophies during his stint at Valletta.

"I don't want to make a big fuss, I want him to sign the contract, get on the flight, arrive in Malta and train, because we need to prepare for the Super Cup."

The Australian agent who arranged Bolt's trial with the Mariners declined to confirm or deny the reports when contacted by AFP on Tuesday.

Bolt does not yet have a contract with the Mariners ahead of the start of the A-League season this Friday, with the club's chief executive Shaun Mielekamp saying in a statement that the Jamaican "will continue his indefinite training period ... until any further notice".

Media reports suggest the Mariners are waiting for governing body Football Federation Australia (FFA) to decide whether it will contribute to a potential Aus$3 million (Dh7.85m) offer to Bolt.

FFA head David Gallop said on Tuesday "the story of a contract in Europe is news to me", but that any financial support from the governing body would not be drawn from a marquee fund set up to attract top players to the A-League.

"The ball is very much in the Mariners court. They have to make a decision whether they want to move to put Usain onto a contract," Gallop told Macquarie Sports Radio.

"If they get to that point [of signing Bolt] then we'll look at what's feasible for us but it can't be from the marquee player fund .... we can't use that money but we'll look at if we can do anything else."

The 32-year-old previously tried out with clubs in Germany, South Africa and Norway to no avail.

Updated: October 16, 2018 02:13 PM



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