Sprint great Usain Bolt expects an onset of nerves when he makes his debut for Australia’s Central Coast Mariners against an amateur side on Friday.
The Olympic champion, who turned to football after his retirement last year, says he is still short of fitness and struggling with the speed of the game.
Mariners coach Mike Mulvey confirmed the eight-times Olympic gold medallist would play in a pre-season match that will be televised live by a local broadcaster and is tipped to draw a crowd of over 10,000 to Central Coast stadium.
“There will be nerves, definitely there will be nerves, it’s not like it’s a charity game any more,” Bolt told reporters after training on Tuesday.
“This is a career that I’m pursuing so there will be a bit of nerves.
“I expect to make mistakes but I also expect to go in, make myself proud and to push myself. It’s just one of those things, I know I’m not going to have a perfect game,” added the 32-year-old Jamaican.
Bolt, whose switch from athletics to football has generated controversy in Australia, remains measured about his progress and admitted to still struggling with his movement.
“Coming this Friday I get to play a little bit so I’ve got to get up to pace,” he said.
“For me, it’s the stop and go’s. The tick-tacks. Because I’m not used to picking up speed, going back down, up and down, up and down, back and forth, that’s the most challenging.
“The season doesn’t start until the end of October so I have time.”
While his coach Mulvey suggested the sprinter was some way off the level required, he doesn’t have a problem with Bolt’s box office appeal, however.
“What the lads in the office are telling me is there could be 10 000, 12 000 people here (on Friday) so that’s quite unbelievable for a pre-season game.
“But I welcome it because it puts us under a little bit of a spotlight,” he added.