There’s a moment in the excellent Ron Howard movie Rush where all James Hunt has to do is flash the air stewardess a glance.
It’s tempting to say the subsequent toilet scene was the moment he joined the Mile High Club but one suspects he was already a fully paid-up member.
To many, the F1 maverick was, and remains, the ultimate sporting blueprint for heroic hedonism. Here was a man who, the film shows, is beaten up for sleeping with someone’s wife, taken to hospital, ‘gets to know’ the nurse, heads to the track, swigs champagne and then wins the race.
It’s not, to my knowledge, the sort of day that our own current sporting pin-up Nahki Wells indulges in very often.
The 23-year-old from Devonshire may look the business — sharp fade, sharp suit — and is no doubt, and quite rightly, enjoying the trappings of being a million-pound footballer but ‘focused’ and ‘humble’ remain the words that most often accompany his name.
These comparisons were entering my head as the film, and Hunt’s rivalry with Niki Lauda, unravelled. In today’s celebrity, gossip-hungry age, Hunt would have been the benchmark for column inches.
But for all Hunt’s legendary antics and brilliant driving, the calculating Lauda — a genius in a very different way — can ultimately boast three world titles to the late Hunt’s one.
The moral is that for a professional sportsman, there may be many different ways to achieve your goals but the ‘burn out, don’t fade away’ method is perhaps not best suited to longevity.
So back to Nahki, and it should come as great comfort to Bermuda sports fans that, in getting to know the Terriers better, it is clear he has, to stretch the Hunt analogy, opted for a steady relationship over a trip to the aeroplane restroom.
Huddersfield Town is loaded with young, progressive professionals, including a wealthy owner, while the facilities are footballing heaven. Wells knows if he performs, he will play every week.
Speaking to the club’s head of football operations Ross Wilson this week, you could feel the energy and vibrancy down the line — and it wasn’t only because of his machine-gun fire Scottish accent.
The club is eager to push on and Wells, as their new record signing, is pivotal to that. Nahki was, Wilson said, “not here to have an impact in 12 months’ time”.
In other words, he’ll be a key player from the outset, which must be music to the ears of a player with his best years ahead of him.
There was, among some on the island, initial disappointment Wells did not hang on in the January transfer window to see if a Premier League club might make a bid. Whether that was on the cards, only the player and his agent truly know, but when Wells talks about continuing to ‘learn his trade’ in the Championship it’s clear this is a guy who is not interested in being a flash-in-the-pan success.
When Rush ended I instinctively reached for my laptop, typed in Lauda’s name over Hunt’s and did what every self-respecting journalist does in 2014 — read his Wikipedia entry.
It’s my guess that when it’s all over, Wells wants a profile page that lists an lengthy and rewarding career. Huddersfield Town already appears to be an excellent next instalment.