1st August, 2021
By Chukwuemeka Opara
Football fans in Ebonyi state, are celebrating former Nigerian international and Arsenal legend, Nwankwo Kanu as he clocked 45.
The 1993 FIFA U-17 world cup winner, fondly called “Papillo’’ by his fans had 86 caps for Nigeria.
He scored 13 goals for Nigeria in an enviable career that spanned from 1994 to 2010.
Kanu is a recipient of the Member of the Order of the Niger (MON) and an Olympic Games football gold medalist.
He had illustrious club careers with Ajax Amsterdam of Holland, Arsenal and West Bromwich Albion of England.
Defunct Ebonyi Angels FC of Abakaliki Defender, James Onele, said that Kanu thrilled soccer fans across the world with sublime skills and trademark passes.
“During his time, Kanu won two African Footballer of the Year awards, an AFCON silver medal; four AFCON bronze medals, and other honours.
“He was the first Nigerian, alongside Finidi George to win the prestigious UEFA champions league trophy with Ajax in 1995,” said Onele.
An Arsenal FC supporter, Ejike Okoro, said the club’s fans were proud of Kanu’s achievements during his time with the English Premier League side.
“Kanu played 197 times for Arsenal, scoring 44 goals and was part of the club’s invincible team that did not lose any match in the 2003-04 EPL season.
“He was instrumental in endearing Arsenal to millions of Nigerian soccer fans, despite later dropping to lowly-rated clubs such as Portsmouth and West Bromwich Albion,” Okoro said.
A banker and football enthusiast, Chief Barry Ogoh, told active footballers to emulate Papillo in investing adequately for the ‘rainy day’.
“J.J Okocha, Kanu among other ex-internationals are still financially stable as many ex-internationals have become bankrupt. Despite his celebrity status, Kanu remembered that there was life after retirement and he is doing well” said Ogoh.
A teacher and football buff, Mrs Nnenna Obi, commended Kanu for his continued inspiration to youths, putting many on the path of stardom.
“I watched Kanu address youths during the #END SARS Summit, organised by the Ebonyi State Government in January and I was awed by his inspirational talks.
“Kanu advised youths to consider their financial backgrounds in their activities and be engaged positively for societal benefit,” Obi said.