Nwankwo Kanu is one of the most naturally gifted football players to have come out of Africa. His football brain was on a different wavelength to his contemporaries and he proved his value by winning major titles everywhere he went.
He finished as one of the most decorated African players in history, counting in his trophy cabinet the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Cup, Premier League, FA Cup, Dutch League title and Nigerian League title at club level, in addition to Olympic gold, the FIFA Under-17 World Cup title and Afro-Asia Cup.
On an individual level, he was named African Player of the Year twice, and BBC African Player of the Year twice.
As a youth international, he helped Nigeria win the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in 1993, and was promptly signed by Dutch giants Ajax Amsterdam from Nigeria’s Iwuanyanwu Nationale, from where he moved to Inter Milan, then Arsenal, before joining West Brom and ending his career at Portsmouth, with whom he won his final trophy, scoring the winning goal in their 2008 FA Cup triumph.
He captained Nigeria to that Olympic gold medal, scoring the winning goal in the dramatic semifinal against Brazil.
He finished as Nigeria’s joint highest capped player with 86 international appearances before the record was broken and surpassed by Joseph Yobo and then Vincent Enyeama. Kanu was voted the 13th greater Arsenal player of all time.
Kanu Nwankwo among Nigeria football heroes is Kanu Nwankwo. The talented forward won with his teams almost all possible prestigious awards including, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Cup, Premier League, FA Cup, Dutch League as well as Nigerian League.
Nwankwo won gold at the Olympic Games in 1996 with Nigerian national team. Kanu also won FIFA Under-17 World Cup and Afro-Asia Cup.
He was recognized as African Player of the Year two times. Kanu Nwankwo played for engaged Ajax, Inter, Arsenal, Portsmouth, and others.
Nwankwo Kanu (a.k.a Papilio) is the former Arsenal, Ajax and Inter Milan star had to undergo heart surgery in 1996 and did not return to the football field till 1997.
He came back with a bang and became a huge favourite for Arsenal fans, his breathtaking hattrick in 15 minutes against Chelsea in the 1999-2000 season when his side was down 0-2.
In 2000, the Kanu Heart Foundation was born to bring back smiles on the faces of Africa’s children and young adults who suffer from various heart-related diseases.
The mission statement of the charity states ‘The goodwill generated by those who donate for these lives threatening open – heart surgeries cannot be overemphasized as they express their gratitude to the Almighty God, the Nigerians team, Africans and Europeans, corporate bodies, government and various Agencies that have identified with this humanitarian venture of saving lives.
The Foundation has facilitated more than 400 heart surgeries at a success rate of 98.5%, in the world of football, often dominated by news of big-ticket transfers and astronomical weekly wages, the Kanu Heart Foundation shines brightly with its simple message of saving lives and making a difference.