Kanu Nwankwo is without a doubt, one of the most decorated names in Nigerian football. If you were born before 1996, then the memories of Atlanta ’96 remains evergreen. A highly talented forward renowned for his elegance on the ball, nimble footwork and tactical dribbling ability, Kanu went on to garner tons of accolades on personal and team levels. While the iconic Super Eagles legend celebrates his 44th birthday, here are seven things you didn’t know about him.
1 Early years
Kanu Nwankwo was born on the 1st of August 1976. He began his professional career in Nigeria with Iwuanyanwu Nationale, where he won the Nigerian Professional league before moving to Ajax in 1993.
2 Move to Europe
Kanu was a member of the golden years of the Ajax Amsterdam team, who dominated European football during the early and mid-1990s, winning six major trophies during his time with the Dutch giants.
3 UCL medal
Kanu is one of the few Nigerian footballers to win the prestigious UEFA Champions league, achieving this feat with Ajax in the 1995 finals against Serie A giants, AC Milan.
4 EPL exploits
In 1999, Kanu joined English Premier League giants, Arsenal, from Internazionale, a move which would produce instantaneous impact; notably scoring a hattrick in 15 minutes against West London rivals, Chelsea to overturn a 2 nil deficit. He would go on to become part of the most invincible team in EPL history- ‘The Invicibles’ Arsenal team who won the PL title unbeaten. He won 2 premier league titles and 2 FA Cups with the Gunners. He would go on to join other EPL sides, Westbromwich Albion and Portsmouth, where he won another FA Cup in 2008.
5 National Representation
Kanu represented Nigeria on different levels between 1993 and 2011, winning the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 1993 and the Olympic Gold medal in 1996, displaying great heroics particularly at the semi-final stage, where he scored a brace in a dramatic comeback against competition favorites, Brazil.
6. Personal accolades
Kanu Nwankwo is a two time African footballer of the year, winning the coveted award in 1996 and 1999, and the only Nigerian footballer to accomplish this feat.
7 Family man
In 2004, Kanu got married to his wife, Amarachi, who was 18 years old at the time. The union is blessed with three children.