The Spanish midfielder would go on to be an Arsenal icon, but he only got himself in the black book of the Nigerian forward in his first day with the club’s senior team.
Cesc Fabregas has admitted that, on his first training session with the Arsenal first-team nearly two decades ago, he made a rash tackle, which got Nwankwo Kanu angry with him.
Then-Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger had forged the Gunners into one of the best teams in England, with the attacking quartet of Thierry Henry, Sylvain Wiltord, Dennis Bergkamp, and Kanu among the most prolific in the Premier League.
The French manager then added Fabregas to his squad in 2003, after being impressed with the youngster’s immense potential while playing for Barcelona’s youth academy.
But Arsenal’s dressing room – filled with World Cup winners, Champions League winners and domestic league champions – was not an easy place for inexperienced youngsters.
By the time Fabregas moved to London, Kanu had already claimed a UEFA Champions League medal, a UEFA Cup medal, two FA Cup medals and two African Player of the Year awards, amongst others.
But on his first day at the Arsenal training ground, an overzealous Fabregas took down the Nigerian striker with a tackle that got the older man riled up.
This much Fabregas confessed to Henry in an Instagram Live chat with Puma Football when asked if he remembered his introduction to the first team: “Of course. I remember as well that day I made a tackle on Kanu as well, and he was so upset with me!”
Fabregas, however, maintains that there was no bad blood in his tackle, and he was only trying to impress his new, more illustrious teammates.
“But this is the good thing, or the bad thing when you are young, and you don’t think where you are sometimes.
“You just want to play, you are excited, and you just want to go there and prove yourself.”