Arsene Wenger took a massive gamble in 1999. He signed Nwankwo Kanu up after the player underwent a massive heart bypass operation. Kanu had previously played for Inter Milan, but heart problems threatened to end his career. Nwankwo Kanu told Canal he owes his career to Wenger, who took the chance to sign up a talented player.
Kanu was a mesmerising foward, all legs and feet. His gangly frame masked one of the most skilful players around; an African superstar, Nigerian legend. Unlike his date of birth, his tricks were unforgettable.
Doctors said that Kanu would never play football again. Wenger thought otherwise:
“I owe him a lot because he believed in me,”
“He gave me self confidence and faith. And I think I paid him back because I did very well with Arsenal.
We all know that there is a good dressing-room atmosphere at Arsenal, and not many players have complaints about the way things are run, as Kanu says:
“We were all together, like a family during this period, and I scored special goals, especially against Chelsea, three in 15 minutes.
“He gave me the chance to have fun playing football and permitted me to dream on.”
Kanu’s third goal in 15 minutes saw Arsenal come back from 2-0 down to win 3-2 against Chelsea at the Bridge.
“…with the puddles deeping at Stamford Bridge, it was Kanu who kept his feet to give Arsenal hope with a quarter of an hour remaining.”
Click here to read the BBC match report from that memorable day.
It’s well known that Harry Redknapp tries to recreate a ‘Wenger style’ in his teams, Kanu commented:
“I feel great because I have found the same atmosphere than at Arsenal here. This state of mind resembles Arsenal’s and helped us win things.
It’s probably true that the quality training and diet that Kanu recieved at Arsenal revitalised his career and has allowed him to continue playing against all odds.