From charity games to pre-season for Bolt

Usain Bolt rues missing a chance to score in a charity match with French legends in June.
Usain Bolt rues missing a chance to score in a charity match with French legends in June.

The last time Usain Bolt played in a friendly match, he shared the pitch with Zinedine Zidane, Thierry Henry and Christian Vieri.

It was an exhibition match in Paris to mark the 20-year anniversary since France's 1998 World Cup victory.

Bolt was a surprise addition to the All Star XI that took on Zidane, Henry and other members from the victorious Les Bleus squad who had reunited to celebrate the milestone.

It was a light-hearted evening sprinkled with celebrity glitz and glamour - and an entirely different universe to the one Bolt will set foot in on Friday night.

The Jamaican sprint legend is all set to make his Central Coast Mariners debut against a team of local amateurs in Gosford.

The 32-year-old is expected to come off the bench for a late cameo on the left wing in the friendly against a Central Coast Select XI.

A crowd of around 10,000 is expected - unprecedented for an A-League pre-season fixture.

And while there will be fireworks, dancers, a DJ and a general party vibe in the air, it's a deadly serious occasion for Bolt.

The eyes of the Australian sporting community and beyond will be watching his every touch to see if he has what it takes to become a professional footballer.

Having begun his "indefinite" training stint with the Mariners only two weeks ago, Bolt is still a long way off the fitness required to play in the A-League.

But how he moves and operates on Friday night should give an insight into his level of football smarts, and how much more he needs to learn to pass muster at the Mariners.

Bolt admitted earlier this week that he will be feeling nervous when his number is called by coach Mike Mulvey.

"There will definitely be nerves, it's not like it's a charity game anymore," he said.

"I expect to make mistakes but I also expect to go out there, make myself proud and to push myself.

"I know I'm not going to have a perfect game."

Australian Associated Press