Friend’s death giving Wells extra motivation to achieve Bradford City ambitions (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Friend’s death giving Nahki Wells extra motivation to achieve Bradford City ambitions
Nahki Wells will have a special inspiration when he steps into history as the first Bermudian footballer to play in a major cup final at Wembley.
Wells carries the hopes of an island as well as the Bantams into tomorrow’s showdown with Swansea.
But the biggest incentive for the City top scorer will be provided by a dear friend who passed away in July.
Tumaini Steede died in a motorbike accident after colliding with a tree – a tragedy that Wells marked with an ‘RIP’ t-shirt after scoring in the first semi-final against Aston Villa.
He admits losing Steede, who played alongside him for Bermuda’s age-group sides, has hit hard and his former pal will dominate Wells’ thoughts in the biggest game of his career.
The City striker said: “He was a very tight mate of mine growing up. We played together from 12 years old, internationally for Bermuda through the age ranks – he was my strike partner.
“The goal celebration was something I felt I had to pay respects to because there was an 85 to 90 per cent chance he’d have been at that game. He was studying in Brighton, mechanics I believe.
“He just went back (to Bermuda) for the summer. I was at home in Bradford just chillin’ and got a call that he was in hospital. He’d had a bike accident.
“Obviously you get feedback from doctors who try to soften the blow in terms of telling you what the damage is in these situations.
“So it was a shock to me because one minute I heard he was all right and would hopefully continue to get better, then a few days later I got a call saying he’s passed (away).
“It was a hard moment for me and I’ve just totally put my career towards honouring him.”
While Wells made his name in Bermuda with Dandy Town, Steede played for rivals Cougars. But his death has had a huge impact.
Wells said: “On the field we hated each other, off it we loved each other.
“In football, I could probably relate to him the most. Of my best friends, a lot of them stopped playing when we got to 16 or 17 but he continued.
“Had he not passed away, he would probably have had a similar opportunity to me because he was so talented.
“Fingers crossed, it’s something that won’t be happening to me because I won’t be getting on any bike at home.
“But it does totally inspire me to achieve what I have always wanted to but also do it with him in mind. As a friend, he would have been so proud of me.”
Bermuda has gone Nahki crazy since City reached the final and he estimates “70 per cent” of the country will be tuning in for a game that kicks off at midday local time.
Wells is their biggest football export since Shaun Goater and he admits the former Manchester City striker remains one of his idols.
He said: “Shaun lives locally in Bermuda and I see him all the time when I’m back home. It’s a small place!
“He’s given me some short-term advice but maybe it would be a good idea to speak to him about the long term. I’ll try and see him in the summer.
“We all know what he’s done in England. Back home there’s not one person who wouldn’t recognise him.
“All the youngsters looked up to him. He played for Manchester City and scored three goals against United in one season, so he set the standards high.
“I’d love to follow in his footsteps and try to better his career. I can only dream to have the sort of career he has had.”