August 1, marked the 40th birthday celebration of former Super Eagles and Arsenal’s forward Kanu Nwankwo, who is arguably one of Nigeria’s highest achievers as far as the game of football is concerned. Sports Intelligence highlights on some of his notable and landmark achievements.
- Kanu Nwankwo captained an 18-man squad that won the Olympic soccer event for men in Atlanta 1996, breaking the monopoly which the South Americans and Europeans enjoyed since the tournament was introduced.
- Kanu is the only Nigerian player to have won the African footballer of the year award in two different years, he won it in 1996 and in 1999.
- Kanu Nwankwo was among the first set of Nigerian players to win the UEFA Champions league, he won it alongside Finidi George while the duo were playing for Ajax Amsterdan in 1995.
- Kanu Nwankwo was named one of the 48 greatest players that ever lived in 2016 by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS)
- He appeared in three world cups (1998, 2002 and 2010) and six Africa Cup of nations tournaments (2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010).
- Kanu was also part of the Arsenal’s “Invincibles” squad under French man Arsene Wenger that went a whole season unbeaten in the English premier league.
- In 2014, Kanu Nwankwo was named by the Nigerian government as one of the 100 most distinguished Nigerians during a ceremony to mark the centenary amalgamation of the North and South.
- Kanu is the third most capped Nigerian player of all-time with 86 caps for the national team during his hey days.
- Kanu also made history in the English premier league by becoming the third most substitute appearances from the bench with 118 appearances.
- Kanu Nwankwo holds the record of being the only Nigerian to have made the highest number of appearances in the uefa champions league with 60 appearances.
At 40, ‘Papilo’ has lived a golden life full of achievement and accomplishment, he also started the Kanu Heart Foundation, which takes care of people with heart deficiency.