One of Nigeria’s great star and International Football Icon was honored recently. If you missed the event, enjoy this photo, video and news report that wraps it all up!
“There was little or nothing known about the ‘phenom’ called Kanu Nwankwo prior to the Atlanta Olympics. His landmark include being part of the U-17 team that conquered the world three years earlier and was also part of the Dutch side Ajax Amsterdam that conquered Europe in 1995, when they were crowned champions of Europe. They narrowly lost in the finals of 1996 to Juventus of Italy on penalties. He emerged captain of the fondly called Dream Team 1 by all.Kanu Nwakwo is best remembered for the equalizer and golden goals he scored against the Brazilian in the semi-finals of the Olympics. However the euphoria of his heroism was short lived because soon after the Olympics he was diagnosed with a career threatening heart condition and had to undergo surgery. How glad his fans were the world over when the surgery was announced successful. This inspired “Kanu Heart Foundation” where people with life threatening heart conditions are sponsored for surgery. At this juncture I suffice to say that the ‘phenom’ Kanu is amongst the few legends to ever have come from Africa football wise. He is indeed an Icon of hope.- Ochuko Ohwo
A Game to remember
By Info Dairy
Nigerian football international, Kanu Nwankwo officially celebrated his exit from international football with a testimonial match, which took place in Lagos, Nigeria. Over 14000 fans braved rainy weather to watch their hero Kanu play alongside many of Africa’s greatest football stars including Jay Jay Okocha, Samuel Eto’o and Emmanuel Adebayor. Other stars on the pitch included Danny Shittu, Sulley Muntari, Rigobert Song, Emmanuel Eboue, Kalu Uche, Jean Makoun, Khalilou Fadiga, Anthony Baffoe, Sammy Kuffour, George Boateng, Joseph Yobo, Taye Taiwo, Herman Hreidarsson, Obinna Nsofor, Ikechukwu Uche and Yakubu Ayegbeni. Lagos State Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola also made an appearance and hit the pitch in a Super Eagles jersey.
After the match, Kanu made an emotional speech, he said “There’s a time to start and a time to finish, it has been a fulfilling ride from day one“. Proceeds from the event will be donated to the Kanu Heart Foundation, the non-profit organization founded by Kanu which provides free life-saving heart surgery to underprivileged people with life threatening heart conditions.
Stars who made the Testimonial match
Babatunde Raji Fashola, Samuel Etoo, Michael Essien, Austin Okocha, John Utaka, Finidi George, Mutiu Adepoju, Kalu Uche, Kanu, Obinna Nwaneri, Yakubu Ayegbeni, Ike Uche, Elderson Echiejile, Onyekachi Okonkwo, Daniel Amokachi, Uche Okechukwu, Ogbonnaya Kanu, Ike Shorunmu, Danny Shittu, Waidi Akanni, Stephen Appiah, Kalusha Bwalya, Khalilou Fadiga, Kolo Toure, Anthony Baffoe, Rigobert Song, Benjamin Mwaruwari, Emmanuel Eboue, Sammy Kuffour, George Boateng, Stephen Keshi and Jo Bonfrere.
Kanu began his career 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 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. Kanu also came on as a sub in Ajax’s 1995 Champions League final win over AC Milan. In 1996, Ajax sold Kanu to Serie A side Internazionale 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 valve and did not return to his club until April 1997. In interviews, Kanu frequently cites his faith as a Christian, and has often mentioned this trying time of his career as an occasion when he prayed to God. Kanu’s experience also led to his founding the Kanu Heart Foundation, an organisation that helps predominantly young African children who suffer heart defects. Kanu is known throughout Africa for his philanthropic work.
Full name Nwankwo Nwosu Kanu
Date of birth 1 August 1976 (1976-08-01) (age 34)
Place of birth Owerri, Nigeria
Height 1.97 m (6 ft 5 1⁄2 in)
Playing position Second striker
Club information Portsmouth Number 27
Senior career* Years Team Apps† (Gls)†
1991–1992 Fed Works 35 (20)
1992–1993 Iwuanyanwu Nationale 25 (15)
1993–1996 Ajax 54 (25)
1996–1999 Internazionale 11 (1)
1999–2004 Arsenal 119 (30)
2004–2006 West Bromwich Albion 53 (7)
2006– Portsmouth 131 (19) National team‡
1993 Nigeria U17 6 (5)
Nigeria U23 6 (3)
1994–2010 Nigeria 86 (13)
- African Footballer of the Year: 1996, 1999
- BBC African Footballer of the Year: 1997, 1999
KANU NWANKWO HEART FOUNDATION
The Kanu Heart Foundation was founded in 2000 by Nwankwo Kanu. KANU NWANKWO HEART FOUNDATION has realised the impossible for families in over 300 homes where a child, brother, father, mother, uncle, sister and relations have benefited from this noble cause within and outside Nigeria. Many still hope and the waiting patients list of over 1000 is a priority.
As the founder of KHF, Kanu is determined to see that five KHF hospitals are built in Africa to ease the problem of undetected heart disease and corrective surgery.