Usain Bolt’s soccer career in Australia has come to an end with the announcement Friday that the Olympic sprint champion and the Central Coast Mariners have failed to reach a deal.
Bolt made the move from sprinter to soccer player this summer, joining the Mariners for an “indefinite training period.” He scored two goals in his first start for the club last month, a pre-season friendly.
“I would like to thank the Central Coast Mariners owners, management, staff, players and fans for making me feel so welcome during my time there. I wish the club success for the season ahead,” Bolt said, according to a statement published by the Mariners.
Shaun Mielekamp, the team’s CEO, said the decision not to retain Bolt was due to timing, but didn’t close the door on bringing him back.
“We weren’t able to come to an agreement in terms … but we’re going to keep trying to work together and keep communication, and you never say never,” Mielekamp said.
“We all wanted this to work. There’s no doubt that everybody from Usain to the players to the club, everybody together genuinely believed that if this was the right and if this could really make a big difference, then it would happen. The reality is it didn’t get there.”
Soon after retiring from athletics last year, Bolt trained with Borussia Dortmund in Germany, Mamelodi Sundowns FC in South Africa, and Norwegian club Strømsgodset.
Before joining the Mariners, he said he’d had been approached by a number of lower league European clubs.
Bolt’s agent Ricky Simms told CNN last month that his client had rejected a two-year contract from Maltese Premier League champions Valletta.
Bolt’s trial with Australian A-League team garnered significant interest and press attention across the globe, something Mielekamp said was much appreciated.
“To have our club on the world stage and in the world media was something we will forever be grateful for,” he said. “This was a great ride.”