Usain Bolt shares regrets about football career

Eight-time athletics Olympic champion tells Jamaican radio he should have chased his football dream in Europe.

By ZK Goh

Eight-time Olympic athletics champion Usain Bolt has revealed his footballing regrets, saying his move to Australia to train with the Central Coast Mariners was a "mistake".

The 34-year-old, who quit track and field to move into football after the 2017 World Athletics Championships, trained with clubs in South Africa, Norway, and Germany before deciding to try to crack the professional ranks in the A-League.

However, speaking to Jamaican radio station Irie FM last week, the 100m and 200m world record holder said his decision to try to avoid the media glare in Europe cost him his shot to become a pro footballer.

"When I decided that I was going to go into it, I was like 'I don't want to stay in Europe'," he said according to quotes reported by Dancehall Mag.

"Because of who I am, in Europe, the sole attention is going to be on me," he said of his choice to move Down Under.

"I decided to go as far as possible away, but I think the correct thing to do was to actually stay in Europe where there were much better teams."

"Great experience"

Bolt added that had he stayed in Europe, where he trained with Strømsgodset in Norway and Borussia Dortmund in Germany, he would likely have had coaches "who understood (...) and would teach me more, and I would get a lot more and get a lot more respect. If I knew I would have stayed in Europe."

The sprinter, who gave up his dream and retired from "all sport" in 2019, admitted that his decision to switch sports was taken based on his belief he was better than some professionals he saw when watching the matches of his favourite team, Manchester United of England.

"During (my) track and field (career), I was always watching Manchester United," he said.

"I thought that if some players – I'm not going to name names, you know them – if they can play football, I can probably do it too," he explained in Patois.

"It was a great experience, I definitely enjoyed it," he insisted.

During Bolt's time in football, former Spain national manager Vicente del Bosque suggested to the Olympic Channel that the Jamaican – who played as an attacking winger – should have tried his hand as a full back instead.

Life after sport

Although no longer involved with sport, Bolt has kept himself busy since retiring from competition.

He has dabbled in various business ventures, including running his own restaurant chain in Jamaica, DJing in nightclubs in the capital Kingston, and attempting a career in music.

At the start of this year, Bolt released a dancehall single, and last month told Zip 103 FM that he was looking to take his musical talents global.

His aim, he said, was to "not only dominate the Jamaican market but also to get into the international market".

"We're just trying to get a foothold, trying to make people understand that we're not just here joking around.

"We're serious about the music so we're just going to take our time. Just like in track and field, it’s all about work and dedicating and just taking our time."

Last year, he also welcomed his first child, with daughter Olympia Lightning Bolt being born in May.