Nahki Wells leaves major impression on old-school professional Randy Horton
Bermuda sports legend Randy Horton has hailed the remarkable strides that Nahki Wells has made throughout his professional career in England.
Horton, the former New York Cosmos striker, has been a big supporter of the Bristol City player, whom he believes is reaping the benefits from his hard work ethic.
“Nahki is a lovely, lovely player who I have watched and have been really impressed with his progress,” said Horton, who scored 43 goals in 77 appearances for the Cosmos in the North American Soccer League between 1971 and 1974.
“Nahki has really done well and had been terrific because of his hard work ethic and even his demeanour. He doesn’t play around.”
Wells, the former Dandy Town player, has netted 107 goals playing for five different clubs since breaking into the professional ranks in England.
He made his debut in the English game with Carlisle United in 2011, followed by stints at Bradford City, Huddersfield Town, Burnley, Queens Park Rangers and now Bristol City.
The 30-year-old became the first Bermudian to play in a major English cup final after appearing in the 2013 League Cup final for League Two side Bradford, which ended in a heavy 5-0 defeat by Premier League side Swansea City.
His goal for Bradford in a 3-1 win over Northampton Town in the 2013 League Two play-off final made him the first Bermudian to score at the new Wembley Stadium.
Wells is also Bermuda’s first million-dollar signing, having been sold to Sky Bet Championship side Huddersfield for a club-record fee of £1.3 million in 2014.
He then signed a three-year deal with Burnley for £5 million in August 31, 2017 in the final year of his contract with Huddersfield.
Meanwhile, Horton has fond memories of meeting Wells in person for the first time while the latter was in Panama on international duty with Bermuda.
“I had a chance to talk with Nahki and I was just impressed with his focus on what he was doing,” the former Somerset Trojans player and coach said.
“He’s been places, like for instance at Burnley, which really wasn’t a great place for him because I don’t think the kind of football they play suited Nahki that well. They wanted big guys up front and I would loved playing for a team like that.”
During his stint with Huddersfield, Wells helped the club gain promotion to the Premier League, a feat Horton would like to see the player achieve again with his present club, who remain in contention in the Championship.
“I am just hoping that Bristol City can hang in there and Nahki can bring them up to the Premier League and then hopefully play,” Horton added.
Wells is among a growing number of Bermudians showcasing their talents abroad at both the semi-professional and full professional levels.
“I think it’s great and every time I look there’s another young man going off to England,” said Horton, who scored 51 goals in 99 appearances, led the league in scoring each of the first four years he played, earned Rookie of the Year and MVP honours and also led the Cosmos to their maiden NASL title.
“It’s not easy if you’re going to make it, so you have to work hard. But I would absolutely encourage any youngster to take advantage of any opportunity to play abroad.
“I think nowadays there are even more opportunities and lots of our young guys are going away and playing.
“A lot of them are not necessarily playing in a high league. But at least if they get in some of those lower leagues and work at it and raise themselves to the appropriate level, then they will get a chance because somebody is watching.”