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Kanu: Triumph Of A Soccer King

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By Isioma Madike , Head, Covers & Investigation, Daily Independent Newspaper

The protracted off-form problem appeared as a stumbling block to Nigeria’s international captain, Nwankwo Kanu, who has been consigned to warming the bench of Portsmouth football club of England for the better part of this season. But, the two time African footballer of the year seems to have seized the tide, and his late season form is exciting all that loves the round leather game.

 However, the leggy player, it seems, has invigorated his knack for scoring goals. This fact was evident on Saturday, March 20, when his 89th minute dramatic winning goal sank hard-fighting Hull city. Kanu’s scintillating strike was all that the Pompey fans needed to smile again, especially at a time of adversity that has seen the club sitting pretty unchallenged at the bottom of the English premier league table. 

 Before the Fratton Park display, Kanu, who, some football enthusiasts had laid aside for the archives, had played himself into the hearts of other soccer devotees with his deft touches on the ball that caused nuisance to goal keepers in England. A football commentator had, for instance, described him as the heart of the Pompey’s new vigour, to describe his astounding display that had seen him scoring three beautiful goals in three matches.

 Yet, Kanu, who is aiming at firing his club to another FA Cup final, appears not to be selfish in taking the credit as he shares same with club colleagues. “You can see the fans have come to support the club they love. So, you have to give them something back,” he stated.

 His club manager, Avram Grant, who hailed Kanu as an Ambassador for the premier league, insists his club Jewel is as good as any other Eagles aiming to perch at the world cup finals in South Africa. “Kanu is not running as fast as before and his is not in the physical condition of before. He’s not young any more. 

 “But, he is clever. His movements for his goals were unbelievable; he was always at the right place at the right time. I think he can still play active soccer for two more years,” Grant remarked.

 In spite of all these, however, Super Eagles technical adviser and former national team coach of Sweden, Lars Lagerback, seemed to have made up his mind on Kanu and his likes. He was quoted recently as shopping for a new captain and younger players to replace “some tired legs of Eagles” so as to fly unhindered in South Africa.

 To former Super Eagles assistant coach and Nigeria’s goalkeeper in the 1970s, Joe Erico, “world cup is not a place to build a new team. It is the ultimate where countries showcase what they have over the years and you need the experience of the Kanus of this world to make appreciable impact in such global fiesta.

 “Kanu has been particularly wonderful of late; to me, he is still relevant because of the psychological strength his inclusion would add to the team. Unfortunately, we don’t appreciate experience in Nigeria. But, it’s all discretional. The coach has the final say in selecting players he believes would deliver for him,” Erico said.

 A decade ago, Kanu’s career was punctured before it began, when he was diagnosed with a faulty valve. Surgery gave him a second chance and inspired him to use his fame to save lives by setting up the Kanu Heart Foundation. His charity exists specifically to help children as more than 1000 African kids have benefited from his milk heart. 

 He has played for great European clubs like Ajax of Amsterdam, Inter Milan of Italy, Arsenal and West Brom, all in the glamorous English premier league. Kanu has all the laurels except the world cup medal to show for his soccer artistry. He is in his early 30s and hails from Arochukwu in Abia State.

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Godwin Ibe

Medical Doctor (GP), IT professional, Web Designer, CELTA Certified Teacher of English, Economist and International Trade Marketer.

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