Retired track and field star Usain Bolt has turned down a two-year deal from Maltese club Valletta FC.
The 32-year-old recently began the pursuit of achieving his long-stated dream of playing professional football, by taking up a contract with Australian A-League team Central Coast Mariners.
Bolt recently garnered plenty of attention for his two-goal showing in the Central Coast practice match against Macarthur South West United last week. The Australian club has since indicated that it is too early to tell if the player will be given a full-time contract. Valletta had hoped to lure Bolt to Malta with the prospect of Champion’s League football.
The Maltese side have won their domestic league five times in the last eight years but have never progressed further than the second round of Champions League qualifying. The club’s new owners have promised new signings and a push for Europe’s premier competition.
Bolt’s agent Ricky Simms, however, has revealed that the player is not interested in the deal.
“There is a lot of interest in Usain playing football,” Ricky Simms told ESPN. “We regularly receive similar approaches. I can confirm Usain does not wish to pursue this opportunity in Malta.”
Valletta FC CEO and managing director Ghasston Slimen told ESPN: “We wish Usain Bolt all the best with his football career. The Valletta FC offer is always on the table.”
Meanwhile, Bolt’s dream of securing a professional contract with Mariners suffered a major blow after Football Federation Australia (FFA) declined to assist with his wages.
The 32-year-old Bolt has been training with the Mariners for the last two months, having joined the club for an indefinite trial period.
The Jamaican hopes to eventually secure a contract but a part of the initial deal had reportedly been dependent on input from the FFA.
The club had hoped to secure an amount believed to be in the region of US$ 641,664 to help secure the deal, should Bolt make it past the trial period. The FFA provides the marquee player fund as a way to subside the costs for clubs when signing high profile players. The organisation has, however, declined to allow Central Coast to use the fund to help sign the Jamaican.
In reacting to the latest development, the club has claimed it will be business as usual with the player’s trial period but will certainly have to find creative ways to bridge the shortfall, should they be interested in the player.