When it came down to penalties, Nahki Wells’ mother said she couldn’t bear to watch. But when all was said and done, and Huddersfield moved up to the Premier League after a penalty shoot out, his family, like countless Bermudians both here and abroad, beamed with jubilation and heartfelt pride. And the euphoria continues.
When contacted by Bermuda Real, Nahki’s mother, Beth Simmons said: “I watched the game at home with my husband while his dad, brothers, uncles and cousins watched at Robin Hood.
“It was extremely nerve-wracking and I just kept hoping that they would score so the game wouldn’t go to penalties. I really felt the pressure for him as you have management and fans all wanting this and all the talk about making history for the town of Huddersfield.”
By the time it was all over she broke down in tears knowing her son, who is 26, is now the first Bermudian Premier League footballer in 14 years.
“I didn’t watch the penalties, I just couldn’t. I felt sick to my stomach and then my husband started yelling: ‘We did it, we are going up!’ I just started crying and I could not control myself, I was so happy for Nahik and the team,” she said.
On a touching note, Ms Simmons said: “I saw him kiss his wrist were he has his late friend Tamani Steede’s name tattooed and pointed to the sky. I spoke to him briefly yesterday as he was still on the field celebrating and I just congratulated him and told him I love him.”
After the game, Mr Well and his wife Coral set out from Robin Hood with Nahki’s brothers, relatives and friends who played ball with him, on an impromptu motorcade through the streets of Hamilton.
It wasn’t long before they stopped by Court Street to pay homage to their hero in front of Nahki’s portrait with other great Bermudian footballers painted on the wall at Jamaican Grill. They were all sporting jerseys with Nahki’s number on them.
Ms Wells, who took the photograph, posted it on Facebook and graciously granted Bermuda Real permission to publish it today for this report. It went viral on the local social media circuit overnight. Like the old adage says “a picture says a thousand words”, it captures what so many people felt when Nahki’s team sealed the victory Huddersfield waited 45 years for.
When contacted today, Ms Wells said they have been inundated with phone calls congratulating Nahki’s family. Mr Wells spoke to his son after the game as well, but for now she said everything still seems so surreal.
Nahki’s mother recalled his early childhood days when he vowed that he would one day be a professional footballer. One of the first things he said after the game yesterday was: “This was the dream that’s come true today.”
Ms Simmons said: “From the age of eight Nahki would have told you that he was going to be a professional footballer and play in the Premier League. My response to Nahki was ‘you can do anything you put your mind to with hard work and dedication’.
“He is living his dream from playing in the English League One to now be playing in the English Premier League. I’m just a happy mother that is proud of all her children and wants the best for them all,” she added.
The Dandytown Hornets striker has now joined the ranks of Bermuda’s own Shaun ‘The Goat’ Goater, who played for Manchester City from the year 2000 to 2003, Kyle Lightbourne, who played with Coventry City in the Premier League and the legendary Clyde ‘Bonnie’ Best, who starred with West Ham United in the 1960s. Another Bermudian, Arnold Woollard, played with Newcastle United in the old First Division in the 1950s.
For the countless Bermudians who watched the game yesterday it was truly a sight to see Wells celebrating Huddersfield’s 4-3 victory over Reading wrapped in a Bermuda flag.
On behalf of Bermuda Real we extend our heartfelt congratulations and best wishes to Nahki Wells, his many friends and family. Here’s to even more victories in the big league!