Celebrating The Legend, Nwankwo Kanu At 40


He has inspired many footballers particularly in Africa. It is no secret that even Emmanuel Adebayor idolized him as a youth.

Now, family, friends and fans are celebrating his 40th birthday.

It is not ordinary footballers who get to be celebrated the way we celebrate ‘Papilo’ across the country. Let this be known, Nwankwo Kanu is not an ordinary footballer.

Kanu, who turns 40 today, is a legend!

With a career spanning 30 years, the Owerri born legend made a total of 503 appearances for both club and country.

Kanu’s playing days were characterized by his trickery when on the pitch as well as his vision.

Kanu may indeed be tagged as a sluggish player, but this does not mean a thing looking at what he brings to the team.

Kanu is a master trickster who can easily attract opponents to him and then free up a team-mate, thereby creating a chance.

Kanu is also known to be a ‘joker’ (I’m not referring to a clown here) and for those familiar with card games, we know what this means. We tend to hold on to our joker in case of desperate situations when we need to change the game.

Kanu is number 3 in the ranking of most substitute appearances in Premier League history, making 118 appearances from the bench. Only Jermain Defoe and Shola Ameobi have made more appearances from the bench.

He has been known to score crucial goals, even when coming from the bench.

In fact, it was the occurrence of this scenario that brought him to limelight – At the Atlanta ’96 Olympics when he scored 2 late goals in the semi-finals against powerhouses Brazil to overturn a 2–3 scoreline into a 4–3 win in extra time.



It was a memorable year for Kanu as the Nigeria football team went on to win the Olympic gold medal and he was named African Footballer of the Year.

Kanu also happens to be the most decorated footballer in Nigeria.

He has won the Nigerian Premier League title; Dutch Eredivisie 3 times; UEFA Champions League; UEFA Super Cup; Intercontinental Cup; UEFA Cup (now Europa league); English Premier League title twice; English FA Cup 3 times; English FA Community Shield; FIFA U-17 World Cup, an Olympic Gold Medal, Afro-Asian Cup of Nations.

He has also been named African Footballer of the Year and BBC African Footballer of the Year both twice.

However, he never won the African nations cup.

Kanu with Queen Elizabeth II
Kanu with Queen Elizabeth II

Away from football, Kanu is an active philanthropist. He is the founder of Kanu Heart Foundation, an organization that helps predominantly young African children who suffer heart defects and whose work was expanded to provide aid for homeless children.

Kanu is well dedicated to heart defect victims because he survived heart complications in 1996 and had a surgery to replace an aortic valve.

After the 1996 Olympics, Kanu underwent a medical examination at Inter Milan. The medical revealed a serious heart defect.

Kanu is happily married to Amarachi. They got married in 2004 when she was 18.

They both have 3 kids.


We leave you with clips showing the King’s times as a footballer

Long live King Kanu, long live the Super Eagles!!!