October 10, (THEWILL) – The English Premier League is recognising the contributions of players of African and Caribbean heritage to the Premier League in each of the last 30 seasons during Black History Month.
Nwankwo Kanu, a legendary Super Eagles captain of his time, who had a glittering EPL career with Arsenal is one of the players being recognised. The EPL recalled Kanu’s legend in English football in a piece published on its website.
Kanu is no stranger to overcoming adversity. The Nigerian attacker overcame a congenital heart issue that hampered his productivity at Inter Milan.
In February 1999, he went to Premier League champions Arsenal, where his career blossomed. The forward made many contributions that set him apart as a calm but skillful operator, but one will forever live in the minds of those who witnessed Kanu’s talents in real time: the 15-minute hattrick that that won Arsenal a 3-2 comeback victory over Chelsea.
Kanu turned in a display that etched his name into the annals of historic Premier League comebacks.
It was 2-0 and Chelsea had yet to surrender a league goal at home that season until Kanu tucked the ball in on 75 minutes to offer Arsenal hope. On the sodden surface, his stunning move and shot levelled the game eight minutes later.
Yet, Kanu was not done. In the final minute, amid the puddles on the byline, the 6ft 6in striker glided past an out-of-position Ed de Goey, before shooting in an unlikely winner from an acute angle past two desperate defenders.
It was Kanu’s 12th goal of the season, and though Arsenal were beaten to the title by Manchester United, it helped him win his second African Player of the Year award.
Kanu’s appearances were less frequent after the arrival of Thierry Henry, and after starring in Arsenal’s “Invincibles” of 2003/2004, he joined West Bromwich Albion that summer.
Before retiring from professional football in 2012, he spent time at Portsmouth, where he scored the winning goal in the 2008 FA Cup final.
Kanu has been a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and the owner of Kanu Sports TV since his retirement.
He founded the Kanu Heart Foundation in 2000 to assist children and young adults in Nigeria and other African nations who require surgery for various heart problems as he continues to be an inspiration across the globe.