Bolt from the red as Ronaldo picks up speed

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The news will come as a lightning bolt to the heart of Premier League defenders. Cristiano Ronaldo, who is already the most elusive of customers in attack, is to have sprint lessons from Usain Bolt, the fastest- ever human on the planet. The small mercy for the rearguard merchants of English football's top flight is that Manchester United's No 7 will not get the chance to utilise any boost in speed until the start of next season.

The world player of the year and the world's fastest man are to meet in the summer, when Bolt is in Europe competing on the Grand Prix and Golden League circuit and preparing for the World Championships, which take place in Berlin in August.

The Jamaican, who struck 100m, 200m and 4 x 100m relay gold in world record times at the Beijing Olympics last August, is likely to be based for the European outdoor season at Teddington in south-west London, close to his manager, the Irishman Ricky Simms.

"It's definitely going to happen," Simms said yesterday. "We'll sort something out this summer when Usain comes to Europe."

The alliance is no corporate sportswear stunt – Ronaldo is a Nike man, Bolt a Puma athlete. It has come about because Bolt is a big Ronaldo fan. In his home at Trelawny Parish in Jamaica he has a room full of signed football shirts, but not one with the imprint of his favourite player.

A management-to-management request for one was met with an affirmative response from Ronaldo, with the proviso that Bolt would spend time with the marauding Red Devil working on his speed.

It will not be the first time that a sprinter of note has worked with a footballer. Ben Johnson was employed as a sprint coach by Diego Maradona and by Al-Saadi Gaddafi, the football-playing son of the Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi.

That was in the late 1990s, a decade after the Canadian's fall from grace at the Seoul Olympics, when he tested positive for steroids after winning the 100m in world record time.