Nahki Wells signs pro contract with Carlisle United
Bermuda international Nahki Wells has signed his first professional contract at English League One team Carlisle United.
The 19-year-old striker put pen-to-paper on a six-month deal yesterday to become the latest in a long-line of Bermudians to play in England such as Clyde Best, Shaun Goater, Kyle Lightbourne and Reggie Lambe.
Wells, who had joined Carlisle on an extended trial, convinced manager Greg Abott he was worthy of a permanent deal after impressing in a behind closed doors friendly last week.
Former English pro Mark Ellis, who recommended Wells to the Blue Army, has backed the former Dandy Town player to force his way into Abott's first team plans and earn a lengthier contract in the summer.
“I know Gregg (Abott) very well and I think Nahki will get his chance at Carlisle, I think it's a good fit for him. Nahki's a footballer and Carlisle like to play football, they don't just kick it up to a big man,” said Ellis, the coaching director at the UK-based International Academic & Soccer Academy (IASA) where Wells had been attending since August.
“Nakhi's signed a contract until the end of season which will then be reviewed.
“Greg has told Nahki if he does well then his contract will be extended straight away.”
Ellis, a former pro at Bradford City, travelled up to Morecambe's Globe Arena last week to watch Wells' final trial game and said he did not look out of place alongside some seasoned professionals.
“I went up to Morecambe with some of the other IASA players to watch Nahki,” he said.
“He played up front with Mike Grella, who is on loan from Leeds United, and he didn't look out of place. I had a feeling he had done enough to earn a contract.”
Currently on vacation in Europe, Ellis was unable to join Wells at Brunton Park where he signed his contract yesterday but did receive a text message from the Islander who flies into Bermuda for the festive period today.
“Unfortunately I couldn't be there when he signed today but he sent me a text and I know he must be over the moon.
“I'm delighted for him and it's up to him now to make the most of this great opportunity.”
Although Wells will no longer –attend the IASA course a programme where American youngsters can study for a degree and receive football training he will be able to return to continue his studies if things do not work out for him at Carlisle.
“The worst case scenario for Nahki is that he comes back and finishes his degree and carries on playing at the highest level he can.
“The door will be kept open to him to continue his studies at the IASA,” Ellis said.
Wells, a former Ipswich Town trialist, had enrolled on the IASA course with his Bermuda Hogges team-mate Tahj Bell who has also attracted interest from professional clubs in England.
Both players were recommended to the International Academic & Soccer Academy by Bermuda Football Association's technical director Derek Broadley, and Ellis now hopes the –programme can provide a permanent path into English football for the Island's top young players.
“They tell me there's a lot of talent in Bermuda and it would be great if we could get a few more boys coming over,” he said.
“If they come over and their attitude is as good as Nahki's, and they're willing to work hard, then there will be opportunities for them to get spotted by several clubs.
“Nakhi's had three months to show people what he can do and that's the great thing about this programme. Bermuda players have British passports which makes life a lot easier as well.”
Wells had also attracted the interest of Championship side Hull City after plundering a hat-trick against their reserves while playing for the IASA earlier this season.
Carlisle are currently 12th in the League One table and are a game away from playing at Wembley in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy.