Nwankwo Kanu (born 1 August 1976 in Owerri, Nigeria) is the most decorated African footballer in history but will mostly be remembered for having a name you can’t have and doing a silly dance when he scores.
Never one for running, languid Nigerian striker Kanu has won the Champions League, the UEFA Cup, three FA Cups, two African Player of the Year awards, the Premiership and the Olympics without breaking sweat.
Indeed, the lanky goal-getter can often be seen mocking teammates who break into a sprint. Sometimes for 80 minutes, Kanu will lean against one of the posts before dropping back into an onside position, batting the ball between his rubbery legs and slotting it home.
Unable to take football remotely seriously, Kanu breaks into a silly slow dance that can take as long as six minutes every time he scores.
Name you can’t have
Nwankwo really isn’t a name. Nobody before or after Kanu has been called it.
The surname Kanu has also caused some problems as fans chanting it sound like they are booing. Kanu shares this affliction with ex-Newcastle United hired goon Jean-Alain Boumsong, but it was easier for the Frenchman because the fans invariably were booing.
Dodgy old ticker
In November 1996, Kanu found out that he had a rare heart condition, which could have killed him. Instead he became really good at football.
During an FA Cup fifth round clash against Sheffield United in 1999, while playing for Arsenal, Kanu accidentally brought English football to its knees by failing to adhere to the age-old tradition of giving the ball back when a team put it off to allow a player to make a lot of a minor injury.
Curly-haired Gunners mainstay Ray Parlour threw the ball back towards Alan Kelly of Sheffield United, but Kanu had other ideas and lumbered towards the ball before crossing for equally bemused Dutch colleague Marc Overmars to net.
During the chaos that followed, it emerged that Kanu hadn’t meant to cause trouble and had just thought that English football was “pretty easy man.”
While playing for perennial strugglers West Bromwich Albion against Middlesbrough on November 14, 2004, Kanu produced one of the Premier League’s finest misses when he fired well wide from less than a centimeter out.
Former Israeli striker Ronnie Rosenthal, the architect of 'one of the biggest misses ever seen' for Liverpool against Aston Villa in 1992, gave Kanu extensive counselling after the true size of the miss sunk in.
After winning the 2008 FA Cup for Portsmouth with a scrambled goal, no-oil-painting Nigerian Kanu gave the credit to the omnipotent being, saying ‘I’m a Christian and I prayed that God would help me.’
He did not explain why God had sanctioned such a wretched second half, or what the famously serious-minded creator thought of the goofy dancing Kanu indulged in to celebrate his gift.
In a recent interview Kanu explained that he credits God for eight of his Arsenal goals, all seven of his West Brom strikes and 10 of his Portsmouth tally to date. He attributes the rest of his goals to being really good at kicking a ball hard towards a net.
Unlike most footballers, Kanu does lots of work for charity and is a thoroughly nice lad.