DRAMMEN, Norway, May 31 – Usain Bolt hopes to play in a friendly against the Norway Under-19 team next week as part of his ongoing bid to become a professional footballer and prepare for his Old Trafford debut in a charity match.
The 31-year-old eight-time Olympic gold medallist took part in training on Thursday with Norwegian top-tier club Stromsgodset at Drammen,40km (25 miles) south-west of Oslo, as part of his week-long stay.
It is the latest part of Bolt’s on-going bid to become a professional footballer after the Manchester United fan also trained with Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund in March.
He is set to play at United’s iconic Old Trafford stadium in a Soccer Aid charity match on June 10 when he captains a World XI against an England celebrity team led by singer Robbie Williams.
Before that, the retired sprint king hopes to get on the pitch in Stromsgodset’s friendly against the Norwegian Under-19 side on Tuesday.
“If I can get a couple of minutes, that would be good,” Bolt told reporters, sweating heavily after the training session.
“I’m here to try to get fit for the charity game in Manchester next weekend.
“Getting a few minutes on a full pitch would be good for me.
“They are very good at passing. The standard is very good here, the game is high tempo.
“The more comfortable I get here, the more I will relax, but everyone has been cool and welcoming.”
According to reports, Bolt has been given the shirt number 9.58 — his world record time for the 100 metres set in Berlin in 2009 — to wear during his stay.
Stromsgodset are struggling — 12th of the 16 teams in Norway’s Eliteserien top league — and he has some advice.
“Just play better, I guess,” he said with a laugh.
“It’s all about the work and sometimes about a bit of luck, as the seasons goes, on you always improve, so hopefully they’ll get better and fitter.”
Stromsgodset’s sports director Jostein Flo has said he wants to give Bolt a chance in the forthcoming friendly and the squad was surprised to find the world’s fastest man in their dressing room.
– ‘A bit rusty’ –
“We had no idea before he walked through the door, that was awesome,” goalkeeper Espen Bugge Pettersen told Norwegian daily Dagbladet.
“He is a bit rusty, in his current form he won’t add value, but we will have to give him some time.”
Forward Marcus Pedersen said the Jamaican’s pace was obvious.
“We haven’t seen so much of his footballing skills yet, but he obviously outpaces anyone around here,” said the Norway international.
While Bolt’s dalliance with football has yet to lead to a contract, the head of Stromsgodset’s supporters club was delighted to see the world’s fastest man at training.
“It brings joy to the fans and that is a relief after a few bad rounds in the league,” said Stromsgodset supporter Thor Arne Hanssen.