Nigerian and global football icon, Nwankwo Kanu turned 42 years yesterday, the 1st of August 2018 and it was a massive occasion for football fans who flooded social media with goodwill messages for him.
Nwankwo Kanu was born on the 1st of August 1976 and hails from Abia State, in southeast Nigeria and is a member of the Aro sub-group of the Igbo ethnic group. In the Igbo language, Nwankwo means “child born on the Nkwo market day”.
During a stellar playing career spanning 20 years, Kanu played for Iwuanyanwu Nationale, Ajax, Inter Milan, Arsenal, West Bromwich Albion and Portsmouth. According to Wikipedia, at club level, Kanu played a combined number of 404 games and scored 108 goals. According to Wikipedia, at national level, Kanu played 99 games and scored 20 goals.
Kanu is a globally decorated football icon who won the three FA Cup Winners Medals, a UEFA Champions League Medal, a UEFA Cup Medal, three Dutch Eridivisie Medals, a UEFA Super Cup Medal, an Intercontinental Cup Medal, two English Premier League Medals, a Nigerian Premier League Medal and an FA community shield at club level.
On the national stage, Kanu was unstoppable as he played a pivotal role in ensuring that Nigeria won the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 1993, the Olympic Gold Medal in 1996 and the Afro-Asian Cup of Nations in 1995. He was also in the Nigerian team that were runners up in the 2000 African Cup of Nations.
Individually, Kanu was crowned African Footballer of the Year in 1996 and 1999, BBC African Footballer of the Year in 1997 and 1999 and was named as part of the International Federation of Football History and Statistics [IFFHS] legend.
Kanu holds the record of being the player with the third most substitute appearance in English Premier League history, coming from the substitute bench 118 times. He doubles up as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and an African Brand Ambassador for StarTimes, a digital TV Operator.
As a result of the victory Kanu gained over a heart defect which culminated in a determination to help save underprivileged African children with cardiovascular problems, Kanu launched the Kanu Heart Foundation in 2000.
In the year 2008, Kanu was voted thirteenth by Arsenal fans in their list of the fifty greatest players to have played for club. In 2008, Kanu and his teammates at Portsmouth received the Freedom of at the city [an award given to Men of Distinction] by Portsmouth City in honor of their famous FA Cup victory.
The 1.97m tall forward is a massive source of inspiration to many people and on the occasion of his 42nd birthday, Kanu can look back on his illustrious playing career, beat his chest and say “I came, saw and conquered”.