Western Sydney Wanderers coach Markus Babbel has dismissed Usain Bolt’s prospects of playing in the A-League, declaring the experiment with the Central Coast Mariners isn’t working.
The eight-time Olympic champion Bolt has been trialling at the Mariners for most of the past two months in a bid to earn a contract.
He scored two goals in a pre-season game last week and knocked back an offer to play in Malta.
Bolt wasn’t included in the Mariners squad for their opening A-League game in Brisbane on Sunday.
Mariners coach Mike Mulvey has said frequently the club may not make a final decision on Bolt until January.
Babbel, who was capped 51 times for Germany, will make his debut as an A-League coach in Perth on Sunday.
He described Bolt as a legend and fantastic person and praised him for bringing global attention to the Mariners and the A-League.
But he said it was difficult to change sports because of the different movements involved in athletics and football.
“If it’s possible many, many other people would do it. For me, it’s not working,” Babbel said.
“For the A-League it was a fantastic period, it was top, but I can’t believe that he will play in the A-League.”
Asked if he found it disrespectful that Bolt thought he could play in the A-League, Babbel said: “If I would be a player from the Mariners that would be strange for me because I’m doing this for 20 years, 25 years.
“Then someone has come in and never played professional football before and thinks he’s good like me, it’s not working.”
Speaking to Swiss newspaper Blick, Babbel made it clear he didn’t think Bolt was good enough to play in ‘s domestic competition.
“The A-League receives much attention from him but honestly, I cannot take that seriously,” Babbel said.
“I saw him play. For all that love, that’s not enough in 100 years.”
Former Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou has also cast doubt on Bolt’s hopes of earning an A-League contract at the age of 32.
Postecoglou, who won back-to-back A-League titles as coach of Brisbane Roar, said “good on” Bolt for trying but the 53-year-old was quick to underline the scale of his task.
“It seems to have got some good attention for Central Coast Mariners, the club there,” Postecoglou, now coaching Japanese club Yokohama, told local media.
“But beyond that I’ve always believed that football is one of those sports that’s very, very difficult to just change from one to the other.
“If you haven’t done it from a very small age and hone your technique and skills, (it’s) very, very difficult at a later age to switch to our sport and play at the highest level.”