Bengaluru, November 2: Champion sprinter Usain Bolt's dream to become a footballer in Australia is all but over as his trial period with A League club Central Coast Mariners was terminated after contract talks between both the parties failed.
But his football dreams are far from over as the breakdown in his Australian quest coincided with Jamaican FA chief Michael Ricketts urging him to sign for a club in his homeland, dangling the prospect of being picked for the national team.
"If he can make the transition from being a superstar on the track to being a good enough football player, then we will certainly call him up," Rickets was quoted as saying in an interview with ESPN.
The sprint king's mission to win a professional contract in Australia at the age of 32 dominated the A League's pre-season and proved a marketing boost to the sleepy Central Coast region north of Sydney.
But Bolt's performances in training and trial matches over the last two months did little to remove doubts about the eight-time Olympic gold medallist's chances of making the grade.
Mariners owner Mike Charlesworth said the club had been "thrilled" to have worked with the Jamaican.
"Despite the fact that we could not come to an agreement that would continue Usain Bolt's football journey with the Central Coast Mariners, we've been thrilled to have the Olympic champion sprinter and world record holder as part of our Club for these past eight weeks," he said in a joint statement with Bolt.
We wish @usainbolt all the best in his future endeavours and thank him for being a part of the Mariners Family.— Central Coast Mariners (@CCMariners) November 2, 2018
BREAKING NEWS: Usain Bolt Update ⚡️https://t.co/Lfi4ccmcMA#CCMFC #ALeague pic.twitter.com/Th1y8sjrvI
The Mariners said they had worked with Bolt and his agent Ricky Simms to engage with external partners in a bid to strike a commercial deal.
"Despite several promising potential partners, both Bolt and the Central Coast Mariners have amicably concluded that they will not be able to settle on a suitable deal in a timely manner," the statement said.
Bolt thanked the club and wished them well for the new season.
"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," he said.
Bolt drew thousands of fans to Mariners' pre-season games that would normally struggle to draw a few hundred, and his two goals in a match against a local amateur side generated headlines worldwide.
However, it was not enough for the Mike Mulvey-coached club to produce a contract before the season started last month.
With the league's next registration period not opening until January 3, that left Bolt as little more than a high-profile cheerleader.
(With inputs from Agencies).