It’s been 16 years since Super Eagles icon, Nwankwo Kanu last donned an Arsenal shirt, but his love for the Gunners remains for all to see.
The 6ft 5” striker played a key role in Arsenal’s success under former Gunners chief, Arsene Wenger, who brought him to the club from Inter Milan back in 1999. Kanu recently bumped into his former manager at the 2019 CAF Awards in Hurghada, Egypt, reminiscing about the old days when he helped the team win two league titles and two FA Cups in his time in North London.
Arsenal and their supporters have clearly never forgotten what Kanu did for the team all those years ago. The Gunners’ Twitter handle recently celebrated the 21st anniversary of Kanu’s signing. To commemorate the day, the account posted a video of Kanu’s top five goals scored in an Arsenal shirt.
Kanu also took to Twitter to share a picture of himself at the awards with Wenger, standing arm in arm with the 70-year-old Frenchman, who has so far chosen not to return to club management after leaving the Emirates Stadium in 2018.
Wenger is back in football – but not as you’d expect
In fact, Wenger was enticed by FIFA to take a role with football’s global governing body that will develop the technicalities of men’s and women’s football. His job title, Chief of Global Football Development, is something that he sees as an “extremely important challenge” to refine the technical aspects of ‘the beautiful game’.
Given that he seems to have a lot on his plate with FIFA, this appointment ended speculation that he was considering a return to management with German giants, Bayern Munich. Wenger did hold talks with the club’s executive board chairman, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, but his preference for a more executive role at FIFA suggests he may have decided to call it a day in club management for good.
As part of his new role at FIFA, Wenger will also be appointed to a new technical panel of the International Football Association Board, as well as chairman of FIFA’s technical study group.
It’s fair to say that things haven’t really gone to plan for Arsenal since Wenger’s departure. Hope sprung eternal that the Gunners would thrive again under the tutelage of Wenger’s replacement, Unai Emery, but the Spaniard was fired in late 2019 to be replaced by a relative rookie, Mikel Arteta – a player Wenger signed for Arsenal back in 2011.
Arteta certainly has a big job on his hands to revive their fortunes this season. A glance at the outright markets for a top four EPL finish shows the Gunners as sixth favourites to sneak into a Champions League qualification spot, behind an improving Manchester United and bitter rivals, Tottenham.
Kanu’s charitable work outside of football
Since Kanu’s retirement, the former Super Eagles legend has dedicated considerable time to charity. He is a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF, and operates his very own heart foundation. The Kanu Heart Foundation is designed to specifically help young African kids with similar heart defects to the one Kanu discovered he had when playing for Inter Milan. When Kanu was nearing retirement, he sought to expand his charity’s work by providing much-needed aid for homeless youngsters throughout Africa.
Kanu took to Twitter with a heartbreaking story of one of the first beneficiaries of his heart foundation. 21-year-old Enitan was just two when she received the vital open heart surgery she desperately needed through Kanu’s foundation. Nwankwo embraced Enitan as part of his family and was incredibly proud to watch her complete her university studies prior to returning to Nigeria for work. Unfortunately, Enitan contracted Malaria upon her return to the country and tragically passed away due to “complications”.
Kanu’s foundation has been invaluable for hundreds of young children, with 538 kids to date being funded for open heart surgery in hospitals around the world, at a cost of $4.2 million. Most of which has been raised via charitable donations. A man that gave so much joy and hope to a nation in his playing career, Kanu is now making the people of Nigeria proud with his love and commitment to his charities.