Biography of Nwankwo Kanu
Kanu was born in Owerri, Imo State on August 1, 1976. Kanu is a professional footballer who played as a striker for the Nigeria national team and is still playing for English club, Portsmouth.
He is the most decorated Nigerian footballer in history, with over 10 wards to boast of, including a UEFA Champions league medal, a UEFA cup medal and two African Player of the Year awards. Between Arsenal’s double win in 2002 and Chelsea’s FA cup win in 2007, he was the only current Premiership player to have won the UEFA Championship league, UEFA Cup, Premiership, FA Cup and Olympic Gold Medal. He is also a UNICEF ambassador
Kanu began his career at the age of fifteen at First Division club, Federation Works before moving to Iwuanyanwu Nationale in 1992. After a notable performance at the U-17 world championships, he was signed by Ajax Amsterdam in 1993. He made his Ajax debut in 1994 and went to play 54 times for the Dutch side, scoring 25 goals. Kanu came on as a substitute in Ajax’s 1995 Champions league final win over AC Milan. In 1996, Ajax sold him to Serie A side Internazionale for around $4.7 million. That summer, he captained the Nigerian team that won gold at the Olympics, scoring two late goals in the semi-final against powerful Brazil to overturn a 2-3 score line to 4-3 win in extra time. Kanu was also named African footballer of the year for that year.
In February 1999, after just eleven games and one goal for Inter, Kanu was signed by Arsenal for approximately £4.15 million. His debut for Arsenal, against Sheffield United in the FA Cup, was a highly unusual match. With the score 1–1 and ten minutes to go, the United goalkeeper, Alan Kelly, kicked the ball out of touch so that treatment could be given to an injured player. When the ball was thrown back into play by Ray Parlour, although it was intended for Kelly, Kanu was unaware of the circumstances. Thinking it to be an attacking move, he chased the throw-in down the right wing unchallenged, and centred the ball for Marc Overmars, who promptly scored to make the match 2–1. Immediately after the match Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger offered to right the error and replay the match; in the end, Arsenal won that match 2–1 as well.
Despite the events overshadowing his debut, Kanu's career was quickly revived at Arsenal. He scored his first goal for the club in the next round of the cup against Derby County, coming off the bench to net the only goal of the game. He quickly became known for his goalscoring prowess from the bench, scoring important goals against Sheffield Wednesday, Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa as a substitute. He became very popular among the fans for his two-fingered salute – something that he later explained was based on the team's nickname, The Gunners – which started in 1999 against Middlesbrough.
Kanu was named African Footballer of the Year for the second time in 1999, and in 1999–2000 he scored 17 times in 50 matches for the Gunners, including three goals in fifteen minutes against Chelsea to turn a 2–0 deficit to a 3–2 victory. In August 2001, Arsenal rejected a bid from Fulham of "around £7m" for Kanu. However, Kanu's appearances for Arsenal gradually became less frequent, particularly after the emergence of Thierry Henry as Arsenal's first choice striker, when Kanu was mainly used as a substitute. Despite this, Kanu won the Double with Arsenal in 2002, an FA Cup in 2003 (as an unused sub) and the Premier League title in 2004. In all he played 197 games for Arsenal (nearly half of them as a substitute), 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
West Brom had just been promoted to the FA Premier League for the second time in the space of two years. Kanu started as a regular for the club, making his debut in a 1–1 draw away at Blackburn Rovers on 14 August 2004. He scored his first goal for Albion on 18 September 2004, an 88th-minute equalizer in a 1–1 home draw against Fulham. In a match against Middlesbrough on 14 November 2004, Kanu was guilty of an incredible miss in injury time, with Albion 2–1 down. Kanu had sent a low cross over the bar from a yard away from the goal line. Manager Bryan Robson was seen in TV footage mouthing the words "How did he miss that?", and Kanu's howler was crowned 'Miss of the Season' by many television stations in the end-of-season reviews. Nevertheless, the 2004–05 season was ultimately a memorable one for West Brom, as they became the first club to avoid relegation from the Premier League after being bottom of the table at Christmas.
One of the most memorable games of the 2005–06 season for Kanu came with the visit of his former club Arsenal to The Hawthorns on 15 October 2005. Philippe Senderos put the visitors ahead in the 17th minute, but Kanu equalised shortly before half time. West Brom went on to win the match 2–1 with a spectacular strike from Darren Carter. It was their first home win over Arsenal since 1973, and the first time that they had come from behind to win a Premier League game. But such highlights were rare for Albion that season, and the club was relegated at the end of 2005–06. Kanu's contract had expired, and he chose not to renew it. In his two years at The Hawthorns he made a total of 58 appearances – 16 of them as a substitute – and scored nine goals.
In the summer of 2006, Kanu played as a guest for Arsenal in Dennis Bergkamp's testimonial game, the first match to be played in Arsenal's new Emirates Stadium. The game was tied 1–1 when Kanu scored the winning goal, making him the third person to score in the stadium. At the end of the match, Kanu joined the rest of the Arsenal side in hoisting the retired Dutchman on their shoulders as fans gave him a standing ovation. He remains a popular figure at Arsenal, being applauded when he appears at the Emirates Stadium.
Kanu was a free agent following his departure from West Brom, and he signed for Portsmouth on a one-year deal shortly before the start of the 2006–07 season. Pompey had undergone a revival in the second half of the previous campaign, following the return of Harry Redknapp as manager, avoiding relegation by four points after being in serious danger at the turn of the year. At the start of the 2006–07 season, they were undefeated in their first five games, during which they did not concede a single goal. Kanu made his debut for Portsmouth as a substitute against Blackburn Rovers on 19 August 2006, the opening day of the 2006–2007 Premier League season. He scored twice and missed a penalty. Though Kanu led the top scorers chart early in the season, he had a goal drought for the rest of the season, but still finished as the top goalscorer for Portsmouth, with 12 goals.
In his second season at Portsmouth, Kanu scored in both the FA Cup 1–0 semi-final win against West Bromwich Albion and the 1–0 win in the final against Cardiff City, earning him a third FA Cup winner's medal.
His first goal of the 2008–09 season put Portsmouth 2–0 up in their eventual 2–2 UEFA Cup draw with Italian club A.C. Milan. He later scored the winning goal against Bolton Wanderers, which ensured Pompey's mathematical safety. It was his only Premier League goal of 2008–2009. He re-signed with Pompey in August 2010, with an eye on becoming a coach when he retired. Kanu signed a three-year deal and kept the number 27 shirt, but was not a regular starter throughout the course of the season and only managed two goals.
On the 2011–12 season, his playing time was reduced, appearing only in the bench. After the departure of Steve Cotterill, and the arrival of Michael Appleton, he was also removed from the bench, due to fitness and injury problems.
Kanu was a member of the Nigerian national team from 1994 until 2010, making his debut in friendly against Sweden. Earlier on at the start of his career, Kanu was instrumental in Nigeria's overall success at the 1993 FIFA U-17 tournament in Japan and their subsequent 2–1 victory over Ghana in the final. With five goals, he was second joint-scorer in the tournament with Peter Anosike and Manuel Neira, behind compatriot and Captain Wilson Oruma.
As well as winning the Olympics gold in the football event at 1996 Olympics, Kanu participated in the 1998 and 2002 FIFA World Cups. On 24 June 2010, Kanu ended his international career following Nigeria's exit from the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Nigeria lost their group matches against Argentina and Greece, before a 2–2 draw with South Korea ended their stay in the tournament. 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.
Nigerian Premier League: 1992–93
Eredivisie: 1993–94, 1994–95, 1995–96
UEFA Champions League: 1994–95
UEFA Super Cup: 1995
Intercontinental Cup: 1995
UEFA Cup: 1997–98
Premier League: 2001–02, 2003–04
FA Cup: 2001–02, 2002–03
FA Community Shield: 1999
FA Cup: 2007–08
FIFA U-17 World Cup: 1993
Olympic Gold Medal: 1996
CAF 2000 African Cup of Nations : Runners-up
African Footballer of the Year: 1996, 1999
BBC African Footballer of the Year: 1997, 1999
Biography of Nwankwo Kanu
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