A few years ago by now, athletics phenomenon Usain Bolt was quoted as saying he would do anything to play for Manchester's Red Devils. The comments were considered by many to be lighthearted and playful, but recently the Jamaican sprinter restated his public dream, claiming his earlier words were meant to be taken seriously, saying;
''People think I'm joking when I say I want to play for Manchester United. But if Sir Alex Ferguson were to call me and say: 'Alright, let's try this, come on a trial for me and we'll see if you're good enough,' then it would be impossible for me to reject that offer.''
The previous connection that Bolt has with Manchester United is the period of time he spent there teaching Cristiano Ronaldo
how to be a better sprinter. Bolt believes that he made Ronaldo a better, more complete footballer, and somehow thinks this qualifies him as a footballer in his own right, saying; ''At least I would be the fastest player.''
But no matter how fast a man is, there is a distinct difference between an athlete and a sportsman.
Some of you may remember another Jamaican sprinter in history, by the name of Ben Johnson. Johnson ran representing Canada at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul - where he was caught using doping. The part you may not remember is that Johnson had a try-out in the CFL, the Canadian Football League. The Toronto Argonauts offered him the opportunity in 1993 to win a contract for himself. The idea was that a sprinter could catch punts up front and lead a faster offensive play. The problem, though, was that of the 21 punts sent his way in his trial game, he only managed to catch one. The words of manager Wally Buono still ring true today: ''Finding someone who's fast is not difficult. Finding someone who's fast and has another skill, that's difficult.''
I'm paraphrasing there, but the general point stands. The chances that an athlete who fixates on one aspect of the body to train for one particular feat grows into anything that's balanced enough for a sport like football, is very slim indeed, and the other way around is generally more effective. My guess would be Theo Walcott
is a better sprinter than Usain Bolt is a footballer.