KANU NWANKO: FOOTBALL AND MORE


Nwankwo Kanu, OON (born 1 August 1976), or simply Kanu, is a retired Nigerian footballer who played as a forward. He was a member of and later captained the Nigerian national team for 16 years from 1994 until 2010. Kanu born in Owerri, Nigeria, is a member of the Igbo ethnic group.

Kanu has won a UEFA Champions League medal, a UEFA Cup medal, three FA Cup Winners Medals and two African Player of the Year awards amongst others. He is also one of few players to have won the Premier League, FA Cup, Champions League, UEFA Cup and an Olympic Gold Medal. He made the third-most substitute appearances in Premier League history, appearing from the bench 118 times. He is also a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.
In 2016, Kanu became a Brand Ambassador for online and retail bookmaker SportyBet.com.
Kanu began his career at Nigerian league club Federation Works, before moving to ‘Iwuanyanwu Nationale’.

After a notable performance at the U-17 World Championships he was signed by Dutch Eredivisie AFC Ajax in 1993 for €207,047. He made his Ajax debut the following year and went on to score 25 goals in 54 appearances. In 1996, Ajax sold Kanu to Serie A side Inter Milan for around $4.7 million. That summer he captained the Nigerian team that won gold at the Olympics, and scored two late goals in the semi-finals against powerhouses Brazil to overturn a 2–3 scoreline into a 4–3 win in extra time.

 Kanu was also named African Footballer of the Year for that year. However, soon after returning from the Olympics, Kanu underwent a medical examination at Inter, which revealed a serious heart defect, he underwent surgery in November 1996 to replace an aortic valveKanu's experience also led to his founding the ‘Kanu Heart Foundation’, an organisation that helps predominantly young African children who suffer heart defects and whose work was expanded to provide aid for homeless children in 2008.

In February 1999, after just twelve games and one goal for Inter, Kanu was signed by Arsenal for approximately £4.15 million. Kanu was named African Footballer of the Year for the second time in 1999. In the 1999-2000 season he scored 17 times in 50 matches for the Gunners, including a hat-trick in fifteen minutes against Chelsea to turn a 2–0 deficit into a 3–2 victory.

In August 2001, Arsenal rejected a bid from Fulham of around £7m for Kanu.  Kanu won the FA Cup in 2003 and the Premier League title in 2004 with Arsenal. He played 197 games for Arsenal, scoring 44 goals. In the summer of 2004, after his contract with Arsenal ended, he moved to West Bromwich Albion on a free transfer.

 In 2008, Kanu was voted 13th in the "Gunners' Greatest 50 Players" poll. Along with other famous players, such as Henry and Robert Pirès, Kanu is a member of the "Invincibles", the Arsenal side that finished the 2003–04 season of the Barclays Premier League undefeated.

He left Arsenal in 2004 and played for the West Bromwich Albion from 2004 to 2006 with tremendous and noticeable achievement. He moved to Portsmouths between 2006 and 2012.

On 24 June 2010, Kanu ended his international career following Nigeria's exit from the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. He won 86 caps and scored 13 goals for his country and was the joint most capped Nigerian player of all-time alongside Muda Lawal, until Joseph Yobo surpassed both players in 2012, winning his 87th cap. Kanu is a reputable, patriotic and achieved citizen who has represented Nigeria in a good way home and away.