Born on August 1, 1976 in Owerri, Kanu Nwankwo is a retired professional footballer. Kanu began his career, aged fifteen, at first division club Federation Works before moving to Iwuanyanwu National in 1992. After a notable performance at the Football U-17 World Championship|U-17 World Championships he was signed by Ajax Amsterdam in 1993 for $250,000.
He made his Ajax debut in 1994 and went on to play 54 times for the Dutch side, scoring 25 goals. In 1996, Ajax sold him to Internazionale Inter Milan for around $4.7 million; that summer he captained the Nigeria national U-23 football team that won gold at the 1996 Summer and was named African Footballer of the Year for that year.
At Internazionale in Italy, a medical examination revealed a serious heart defect; he underwent surgery in November 1996 to replace an aortic valve and did not return to his club until April 1997. Kanu’s experience led to the birth of Kanu Heart Foundation in 2000, an organisation that helps predominantly young African children who suffer heart defects by offering free cardiovascular procedures.
In February 1999, after just twelve games for Inter, Kanu was signed by Arsenal F. C. Arsenal for roughly $7.5 million. Initially his career was revived under Arsene Wenger, and he was named African Footballer of the Year for the second time in 1999. Kanu’s appearances for Arsenal gradually became less frequent, and in the 2004 offseason, after failing to get his contract with Arsenal extended, he moved to West Bromwich Albion F. C. West Brom on a free transfer.
Kanu played for Nigeria at the FIFA World Cup in 1998, 2002 and 2010 World Cups. At e end of his career, Kanu Nwankwo had won a UEFA Champions League medal, a UEFA Cup medal, three FA Cup Winners Medals and two African Player of the Year awards amongst others. He is also one of few players to have won the Premier League, FA Cup, Champions League, UEFA Cup and an Olympic Gold Medal.