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Nwankwo Kanu

Nwankwo Kanu
Complete Name: Nwankwo Kanu
Nationality: Nigerian
Place of Birth: Owerri, Nigeria
Date of Birth: 01/08/1976
Height: 197 cm
Weight: 80 kg
National Team: Nigeria
Current Club: West Brom (England)
Position: Forward


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Club career history

Ajax Amsterdam (Holland), Inter Milan (Italy), Arsenal FC (England), Inter Milan (England), Arsenal FC (England), West Brom (England)


1995 Champions League winner (Ajax)
2002 Premiership Champions (Arsenal)
2004 Premiership Champions (Arsenal)
2002 FA Cup winner (Arsenal)
2000 UEFA Cup Finals (Arsenal)
2001 FA Cup Finals (Arsenal)


Nwankwo Kanu (born August 1, 1976 in Owerri, Nigeria) is a professional footballer, currently playing for West Bromwich Albion in the English Premier League. He is known for his height, which is 198 cm (6'6"), and his silky ball skills which he often utilizes to break down defences.

His unique, unorthodox method of play (taking on defences alone with his vast talents and skills) is deemed to be too slow and time-wasting and at times can even be more frustrating than entertaining to those who watch him play, though when it works, it usually reaps results. He is said to be one of the most talented footballers ever to come out of the African continent. He is usually mentioned alongside the likes of other African greats such as George Weah and Abedi Pele. He is the most highly-decorated African footballer in footballing history, with over 10 awards to boast of.

Kanu began his career, aged fifteen, at First Division club Federation Works before moving to Iwuanyanwu National in 1992. After a notable performance at the U-17 World Championships he was signed by Ajax Amsterdam in 1993 for €207,047. He made his Ajax debut in 1994 and went on to play 54 times for the Dutch side, scoring 25 goals; Kanu came on as a sub 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, famously scoring 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 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 February 1999, after just twelve games and one goal for Inter, Kanu was signed by Arsenal for approximately £4.2 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 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 the United 'keeper, 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, especially after the departure of Nicolas Anelka in the summer of 1999. Kanu became known for scoring extravagant goals – against Tottenham Hotspur, with his back to goal he lobbed the ball over Luke Young's head, before turning the young defender and scoring. Other memorable goals included a hat-trick against Chelsea, in which one of the goals was scored from the goal line, to win a derby match 3-2 after being 2-0 down. Following his amazing performance the headline pun after the game was "Kanu believe it". He also scored a spectacular backheel flick against Middlesbrough and an amazing goal against Deportivo La Coruna where given a one-on-one with the La Coruna goalkeeper, ran in a straight line towards the goal completely fooling him in the process. He 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.

However, Kanu's appearances for Arsenal gradually became less frequent, particularly after the emergence of Thierry Henry as Arsenal's first choice striker, and he became 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 2004 offseason, after failing to get his contract with Arsenal extended, he moved to West Bromwich Albion on a free transfer.

In the 2004/05 season, Kanu played at home for West Bromwich Albion against Middlesbrough, incredibly missing a shot from less than one yards off the goal line. A cross sent across the face of the goal by teammate Geoff Horsfield was amazingly knocked over the crossbar by Kanu in injury time. Kanu was not under any pressure from the Middlesbrough defence and had the ball rolling perfectly to him, but in a moment of panic, he sent the ball over the bar. West Bromwich Albion lost the match 1-2, and it was manager Bryan Robson's first game in charge, against his former club Middlesbrough. The miss was dubiously crowned 'Miss of the Season' by many television stations in the end-of-season reviews.

On 15th October 2005, Nwankwo Kanu returned to haunt his former club Arsenal, playing for West Bromwich Albion at home against Arsenal and scored an equaliser in the 38th minute against his former employees. West Bromwich Albion won the match 2-1, their first home win over Arsenal in 33 years.

Kanu had played for Nigeria since 1994, making his debut against Sweden in a friendly. He (as of September 2005) has over 40 caps caps and has scored more than 10 goals for his country. As well as playing in the Olympics, Kanu participated in the 1998 and 2002 World Cups. However, Nigeria failed to qualify for the 2006 World Cup as they crashed out to Angola, on head-to-head results after finishing level on points. Kanu played an influential part as a "supersub" in Nigeria's qualifying campaign, and turned several games around in an attempt to salvage a World Cup spot but despite Nigeria's 5-1 home win over Zimbabwe even as Kanu scored a penalty goal and created another, Angola beat Rwanda 1-0 with just minutes to go to top Group 4.

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