Alan Hubbard ©insidethegames

"He wasn't quite quick enough." These are words I never thought we would hear from a sports commentator about Usain Bolt.

They were uttered by ITV's Clive Tyldesley on Sunday (June 10) night, albeit not about the great man's sprinting prowess on the track, but on the football pitch at Old Trafford.

There, the 31-year-old Jamaican legend achieved his ambition of playing at the Theatre of Dreams in his alter ego as a wannabe Wayne Rooney.

Wearing a shirt uniquely numbered 9.58, his phenomenal enduring world record time for the 100 metres, Bolt captained the Rest of the World team of celebs and former footy stars (including Eric Cantona) against an England team similarly composed (including Sir Mo Farah).

It was for the annual Soccer Aid match which raises money for UNICEF. More than £5.5 million ($7.3 million/€6.2 million) on this occasion.

Okay, as Tydesley was quick to point out, Bolt was not quite speedy enough early in the game to latch onto a through-ball in front of goal.

Lionel Messi, Cristriano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale or Harry Kane he is not, but once he upped the pace Bolt proved quite useful in the Rest of the World attack, playing catch me if you can. By and large, they couldn't.

He played the whole match, having a goal ruled offside, hitting the bar with a shot that surely would have been deemed a goal had Video Assistant Referees been employed and scoring the opening penalty with a sly left footer into the corner past actor David Harewood, in a shoot-out (which, for once, an England team won) after a 3-3 draw.

Throughout his career in athletics, the eight-time Olympic gold medal winner often spoke of his desire to eventually make a transition into football and, while it raised a few giggles, it was no joke for Bolt.

He had expressed a serious interest in playing football at a high level after retiring from athletics last year and in March he trained with Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund in Germany.

Usain Bolt in action during the Soccer Aid charity match in Manchester ©Getty Images
Usain Bolt in action during the Soccer Aid charity match in Manchester ©Getty Images

But what he really desired, he told a British TV chat show last week, was to wear a Manchester United shirt.

The Red Devils have regularly acknowledged the star's love for the club, inviting him as their guest to the 2011 Champions League final, as well as having him parade his gold medals in front of the crowd before a 2012 Premier League game against Fulham at Old Trafford.

He clearly believes in himself, once suggesting that he would perhaps be at the same level as Rooney when it comes to ability, but lining up for Jose Mourinho's side at Old Trafford must remain a pipe dream.

While he clearly has some talent at the game he must know deep down that it is a case of no way, Jose. 

Mourinho won't be getting out the cheque book and pen. Somewhere like Burton Albion might be more Usain's mark.

Even Bolt's own agent, Ricky Simms, doubts the likelihood of such a bizarre happening, citing the Jamaican's advancing age and lack of professional football training.

"Can a sprinter who is 31-years-old play in the Bundesliga or the Premier League? Realistically that is a step too far," Simms told the Daily Star. "I think if he had six or nine months playing and training with a team then he could play at some level whether that is League One or League Two.

"He would hit me on the head for saying he is not going to play in the Champions League, but I don’t know realistically if he has the motivation at this stage of his life to go training with the reserves on a rainy day in Manchester or Munich or somewhere as he is a wealthy guy and has a great life."

That said, Simms also revealed that Bolt had around a dozen clubs interested in his services and, considering his physical attributes and celebrity status you can certainly understand why.

However, I think Usain is playing the wrong ball game. With his bewildering acceleration he would be ideal for rugby - union or league - even if the emphasis is more on strength than speed these days. While there is no record of  former top level athletes ever making it in football there are several examples of track stars who have winged it in rugby.

Bolt would be following in some famous spiked footsteps.

The Trinidad-born Olympic bronze medallist  E. McDonald Bailey - who ran for Britain and once jointly held the 100m world record - stunned the sporting world when signing for ambitious Lancashire rugby league club Leigh following his retirement from athletics in 1953, reportedly at the suggestion of iconic BBC commentator Eddie Waring. He lasted just one season. 

After a fruitless flirtation with American football, Britain's Dwain Chambers hoped a spell in rugby league with unfashionable Castleford could help him settle mounting legal bills following his ban for a positive drugs test. 

However, his oval ball career consisted of an unorthodox 39 minute cameo in a specially-arranged 'A' team friendly with York.

Dwain Chambers gave rugby league a try with Castleford Tigers ©Getty Images
Dwain Chambers gave rugby league a try with Castleford Tigers ©Getty Images

The 400m specialist Darren Clark was a "pin-up" boy of Australian sport during his 1980s halcyon days, winning a Commonwealth Games gold medal in between successive fourth place finishes in the 1984 and 1988 Olympics.

He was persuaded to trade his running spikes for rugby boots in 1991 but never justified the huge initial publicity, despite achieving a modicum of success in the club's reserve grade. He returned to athletics the following year but never recaptured earlier glories.

Berwyn Jones, the Welsh sprinter, was one of rugby's real success stories. He won a bronze in the 4x100m relay at the 1962 European Championships and had equalled the British 100m record by the time he made a surprise switch to rugby league with Wakefield Trinity in 1964.

A union background helped him adapt to his new sport and he made a try-scoring debut for Great Britain within nine months. He later enjoyed an equally prolific spell with Bradford Northern before his retirement at 29.

There is big money in rugby these days (not that Bolt needs it) - notably professionalised union - so perhaps football-mad Usain should have new goal. At least he could give it a try, so to speak.

It would certainly have Twickers in a twist.