Nwankwo Kanu, popularly called Papilo, a nickname he got from the popular Peak milk advert, is a retired Nigerian footballer who played as a forward. He was a member of and later captained the Nigerian national team for 16 years from 1994 until 2010.
His football career has seen him played for top European clubs like Inter Milan, Ajax Amsterdam, Arsernal FC, Westbromich Albion, Porstmouth FC, etc
Here are the 15 things you should know about the talismanic Nigerian legend;
- Kanu was born on the Nkwo market day and that was why he was named ‘Nwankwo’, born on Nkwo day.
- He began his professional career with Iwuanyanwu Nationale in the Nigeria Professional Football League in the 1992/93 season after impressing at Holy Ghost College in Owerri.
- He was second joint top scorer at the 1993 Fifa U17 World Cup alongside Peter Anosike and Manuel Neira with five goals.
- His normadic football career saw him play for six different clubs in four different countries; Iwuanyanwu Nationale, Ajax, Inter Milan, Arsenal, West Bromwich Albion and Portsmouth.
- Kanu is the first and only Nigerian footballer to be named African Player of the Year twice.
- He captained the Dream Team, Nigeria’s U23 team, to win Gold at the Atlanta ’96 Olympics in the United States of America, the first time a team outside of Europe and South America had won the title.
- Kanu was named one of the 48 greatest footballers ever by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS) in 2016.
- He featured in three World Cups (1998, 2002 & 2010) and six Africa Cup of Nations tournaments (2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010).
- Kanu was also a member of the Arsenal ‘Invincibles’, the Arsene Wenger-led side that went a whole season undefeated in the English Premier League.
10. He is an Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON), the sixth highest Nigerian national honour.
11. In 2014, the Nigerian government named Kanu among the 100 most distinguished Nigerians during a ceremony to mark the centenary of the unification of Northern and Southern Nigeria.
12. He won 86 caps and scored 13 goals for Nigeria and is the third most capped Nigerian player of all-time.
13. He was owed wages of up to £3 million by Portsmouth from 2006 – 2012 but dropped the case against the club due to their financial difficulties.
14. In 2015, he was named the 13th greatest player to have ever played for Arsenal
15. With 60 games under his belt, Kanu holds the record for highest number of appearances by a Nigerian player in the Uefa Champions League.
Source: Nigerian Nation