Usain Bolt: Cristiano Ronaldo inspiring me through football transition
Usain Bolt said he is taking inspiration from Cristiano Ronaldo as he tries to make the transition from Olympic sprinter to footballer with the Central Coast Mariners.
Bolt played just over 20 minutes for the Mariners in a 6-1 win over a Central Coast select side in Gosford on Friday.
"[Ronaldo] knows what it takes to be the best and for me, I have to take off of that," Bolt said. "I'm not a talented footballer like [Lionel] Messi. He started when he was young and he's really talented. Cristiano worked to be the best, and that's what I want to emulate. I've got to work to be the best so that's my focus."
Bolt and Mariners coach Mike Mulvey both said the eight-time Olympic champion's performance was OK as Bolt admitted to feeling nervous during the game.
Playing as a winger and striker, he got a few touches, came close to scoring in stoppage time and was confident enough to run at opposing defenders.
But Bolt was clearly short of peak fitness, sometimes lost possession and did not always read where his teammates passes were going.
Bolt said that aside from his fitness, his movement off the ball was the aspect he most needed to improve.
"Knowing and understanding where I should be when the ball is played to the wing or inside and on defence, it's all about the movement," Bolt said.
While he received a rapturous reception from the crowd of just under 10,000 people, Bolt recognised he could get a rougher ride elsewhere in a country where sledging is an art from and a staple at sporting venues.
"Home games, I don't have to worry about that. I think maybe away games will be a little bit different," he said. "But for me, I'm used to stuff like that, also from competitors and the media."
Although he has switched to soccer at the relatively late age of 32, Bolt stressed running had not taken as great a toll of his body, as playing a contact sport would have done.
"We don't have the contact [in sprinting], so I don't think it's hard on my body, so I'm good for five years," Bolt said with a chuckle. "I'm in good shape and feeling young."
Bolt expected to be at his best in around four months and was confident of signing a contract with the Mariners by that point.
"The comments I made on the very first press conference [after Bolt arrived] was that I'll give him 12 months if required, and I've already heard that he's said, 'Give me four months to get fit,' so we'll see," Mulvey said.