The Kanu Nwankwo biography I have written in this article is one like no other that’ll make for good good reading.
Kanu Nwankwo, best known by the nickname “Papilio,” is a former Nigerian professional footballer who played as a forward.
Let me now delve into Kanu Nwankwo biography properly.
Kanu Nwankwo Biography
The 6 feet 6 inches Nigerian player was born 1 August 1976 in Owerri, Imo, Nigeria.
He was born to Mrs. Susan (mother) and Mr. Iheme (father), a native of Okija in Ihiala Local government Area of Anambra State, Nigeria.
Kanu is a native of Abia State, southeast Nigeria, and a member of the Aro sub-group of the Igbo ethnic group.
Nwankwo means “Child born on Nkwo market day” in the Igbo language.
Kanu’s younger brother, Christopher, was also a footballer who played as a defender; he also has another younger brother, Ogbonna.
Kanu grew up in Owerri alongside his siblings, where he began his football career at Nigerian league club federation works.
Football Career Highlights
Kanu continued his football career in Iwuanyanwu Nationale.
After a unique performance at the U-17 world championship, he was signed by Dutch Eredivisie AFC Ajax for an undisclosed fee.
He made his Ajax debut that year and scored 25 goals in 54 appearances.
Kanu also came in as a Sub in Ajax’s 1995 UEFA Champions League victory over A.C. Milan and started in the 1996 UCL Final against Juventus.
In 1996, Kanu was sold to the Serie A side Inter Milan for $4.7 million.
That same year he captained the Nigerian National team that won gold at the Olympics and scored two late goals in the semi-finals against Brazil to overturn a 2-3 scoreline into a 4-3 win in extra time.
Kanu was crowned African footballer of the year that same year.
However, soon after returning from the Olympics, Kanu underwent a medical examination at Inter, which revealed a severe heart defect, and doctors believed that his career was over.
He underwent successful surgery in November to replace an aortic valve and did not return to his club until April 1997.
Just after 12 leagues games and one league goal for the Inter side, Kanu Nwankwo was joined the English side Arsenal for approximately £4.15 million in 1999.
He made his first Arsenal debut against Sheffield United in the FA Cup. With the score 1–1 and ten minutes to go, the then Sheffield United goalkeeper kicked the ball out of touch so that the medics could give treatment to injured Lee Morris.
When the ball was thrown back into play, although it was intended for Kelly, Kanu chased the throw-in down the right-wing unchallenged and centered the ball for Marc Overmars, who scored to make the match 2–1.
After the match, Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger accepted that it was not correct sportsmanship and offered to re-play the game, which Arsenal again won.
Despite the occurrences overshadowing his debut, Nwankwo’s career was revived at Arsenal.
He came off the bench to score his first goal in the next round of the cup against Derby County, the game’s only goal.
Kanu quickly became known for scoring prowess from the bench, scoring crucial goals against Sheffield Wednesday, Tottenham Hotspur, and Aston Villa as a substitute.
He became very popular among the fans for his two-fingered salute, which started in 1999 against Middlesbrough – something that he later explained was based on the team’s nickname, the Gunners.
Kanu was given the honor of the African footballer of the year for the second time in 1999.
In the 1999–2000 season, he scored 17 times in 50 matches for the Gunners, including a hat-trick in fifteen minutes against Chelsea to turn a 2–0 deficit into a 3–2 victory.
Nevertheless, Kanu’s appearances for Arsenal gradually became less frequent, particularly after the emergence of Thierry Henry as Arsenal’s first-choice striker, with Kanu being mainly used as a substitute.
Kanu then won the 2003 FA Cup with Arsenal.
Alongside other famous players, such as Henry and Robert Pires, Kanu is a member of the “Invincibles,” the Arsenal side that finished the 2003–04 season of the Premier League undefeated.
He played 197 games for Arsenal, scoring 44 goals. In 2004, his contract with Arsenal ended, and he soon moved to West Bromwich Albion on a free transfer.
Despite his move to West Brom, Kanu was invited to play as a guest for Arsenal in Dennis Bergkamp’s testimonial game, the first match to be played in Arsenal’s new Emirates Stadium.
The game was tied 1–1 when Kanu scored the winning goal, making him the third person to score in the stadium.
At the end of the match, Kanu joined the rest of the Arsenal side in hoisting the retired Dutchman on their shoulders as fans gave him a standing ovation.
He remains a popular figure at Arsenal and is applauded when he appears at the Emirates Stadium.
During his time with the club, he wore the number 25 shirt.
Kanu started as a regular for the West Bromwich side, making his debut in a 1–1 draw away at Blackburn Rovers on 14 August 2004.
He had his first goal for Albion on 18 September 2004, an 88th-minute equalizer in a 1–1 home draw against Fulham.
One of the most memorable games of the 2005–06 season for Kanu came with the visit of his former club Arsenal to The Hawthorns on 15 October 2005.
Philippe Senderos put the visitors ahead in the 17th minute, but Kanu equalized before halftime. West Brom went on to win the match 2–1.
It was a spectacular game for West Bromwich Albion as it was their first win over Arsenal, also their first win from behind.
Kanu Nwankwo’s contract expired, and he signed for Portsmouth. Kanu made his debut for Portsmouth as a substitute against Blackburn Rovers on 19 August 2006, the 2006–07 Premier League season, he scored twice.
The former African footballer of the year went on to finish the season as the top goalscorer for Portsmouth, with 12 goals altogether.
Following several disputes with the club over unpaid wages, Kanu agreed to leave Portsmouth on 30 July 2012.
Kanu was a member of the Nigeria national team from 1994 to 2010, making his debut in a friendly against Sweden.
At the start of his career, Kanu was instrumental in Nigeria’s overall success at the 1993 FIFA U-17 tournament in Japan and their subsequent 2–1 victory over Ghana.
He was second joint-scorer in the tournament with five goals with Peter Anosike and Manuel Neira, behind compatriot and Captain Wilson Oruma.
On 24 June 2010, Kanu ended his international career following Nigeria’s exit from the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
He won 86 caps and scored 13 goals for his nation. Despite serving as a striker, he wore the number 4 shirt for Nigeria.
Kanu Net Worth
Clearly, if Kanu played in the era where football was more money-driven as it was entertaining, he would have earned a fortune being one of the most successful Nigerian footballers in the history of the super eagles.
He has, however, been able to hold his own weight financially and has been involved in several investments to keep the money coming.
The retired Nigerian footballer is currently estimated to have a total net worth of $9 million.
However, there are reports that his total net worth is expected to increase as he recently invested over ₦2 billion in real estate.
Kanu Nwankwo Hotel
Kanu Nwankwo likes to invest in real estate and the hospitality business and is said to have a chain of hotels in Dubai.
He built a new ₦400M hotel in Owerri which the footballer told friends will be the best hotel in the Eastern heartland.
The hotel is located along Port Harcourt road, Owerri.
Another of his most valuable investments is The Hardley Apartments situated along Waziri Ibrahim Crescent, on Victoria Island, Lagos State.
The four-star hotel was a subject of litigation for some years, over an alleged default in a transaction between it and Skye Bank (Polaris Bank), which led to series of litigation at the federal high court, Ikoyi, Lagos.
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Aside from the claims that Kanu has houses in his hometown and several other places, as well as in Arochukwu and Ikoyi, the Nigerian star also owns a mansion in Opebi, Lagos, the cost of which is estimated to be ₦150 million.
This is the major building that has been confirmed to be owned by the former Super Eagle star and is indeed a sight to behold.
Kanu Nwankwo, apart from houses, also has a love for cars and not just any kind of car.
The former Arsenal man has been seen with a couple of Luxury cars that seem to have a commendable horsepower for speed.
Some of his fleets include a Ferrari, Mercedes Benz, and Audi.
Kanu’s relationship with his wife is one thing that drew media attention at the time of their marriage.
The Super Eagles star got married to his wife Amarachi on 26 June 2004.
Amarachi was only 18 years of age when she got married to Kanu, and the 16-year-old union is blessed with three children: Amarachi, Onyekachi, and Chukwudi.
However, it was not all a fairy tale move as an 18-year-old Amarachi had to learn how to be a wife without much preparation.
She stated in an interview that it was a growth process that her husband helped her with.
She also cited that the marriage held through the early tough years as she genuinely loved her husband.
Currently, Nwankwo’s wife works as a fitness and wellness coach who inspires people to become better versions of themselves.