Usain Bolt scores two goals for Central Coast Mariners in trial game
Usain Bolt has marked his first start for A-League side Central Coast Mariners with two goals against Macarthur South West in a preseason friendly.
Bolt, the 100 metres world record holder and eight-time Olympic gold medal winner, joined Central Coast on trial in August in a bid to win a contract and admitted the game would be key to his future.
Playing in a central striking role, he scored his first in the 55th minute to put Central Coast 3-0 up with a powerful left-footed finish after racing onto a Ross McCormack through-ball. He promptly produced his famous lightning bolt celebration.
And his second goal came in the 68th minute when he capitalised on a defensive error to tap home from close range.
Bolt had a number of other chances before being substituted in the 75th minute, but struggled early in the game to maintain possession.
Just under 6000 people turned up on Friday night at Campbelltown Sports Stadium and they gave Bolt plenty of support whenever he touched the ball, especially one enthusiastic horn blower.
"Scoring a goal in your first proper match, the first start and scoring two goals, it was a good feeling," Bolt told Fox Sports. "Because this is what I've worked for. I've tried to prove myself -- I've tried to get better. I think I've improved in every area.
"I think my touch is that little bit better; my vision needs to improve a little bit more. I think my running off the ball is where I've improved most."
McCormack added: "The best thing about Usain Bolt is he's so humble. He's fitted in well with the lads. From my first day even to where he is now, the transformation is huge."
Before his double, Bolt wasn't always convincing, either in his finishing or in holding and distributing possession.
As early as the second minute, he broke clear but wasn't able to get a shot on goal, as he lost the ball before getting to the penalty area.
In the 23rd minute, he won the ball in the penalty area after losing it, but his close-range shot came off a defender and was comfortably saved.
He came close in the 39th minute when he had his best moment of the first half. The 195cm Jamaican made a strong, well-timed run and jump at a left-wing cross from Tommy Oar, winning an aerial contest and putting a firm header just wide of the post.
McCormack and Jordan Murray scored the Mariners' other goals in their 4-0 win in their final preseason game.
The A-League season begins next weekend, with Central Coast away to Brisbane Roar on the Sunday.
Bolt retired from athletics after the 2017 World Championships and has been eager to forge a new career in professional football.
Information from the Australian Associated Press was used in this report