WATCH: How My Success At Arsenal Paved the Way For African Players – Kanu

Nwankwo Kanu, Nigeria ©Gavin Barker/BackpagePix
Kanu Nwankwo Photo/©Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

Former Super Eagles striker and Atlanta Olympic gold medalist, Kanu Nwankwo has disclosed that his success in the Barclay’s Premier League opened a window of opportunities to other players in Africa to play in Europe.

The two-time African Footballer of the year recipient had a blissful career with Arsenal in England, scoring superb goals for the team in their road to winning two Premier League trophies and two FA Cups during his five years at the club where he boasts of 44 goals in 198 games.

Kanu joined the Gunners on February 18, 1999. February 18 marked his 17th anniversary of signing for the club, and the 39-year-old has fond memories of his time in north London.

“I believe I was the first [African] person who came to England and did very well,” Kanu said.

“After that, the doors opened for African talents so, with Arsenal behind me and what we did with Arsenal, everybody now tends to follow the English league”.

Despite failing to win the UEFA Champions League with Arsenal, Kanu is of the opinion that Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger brought out the best in his football career.

“When I came over I saw a good coach who saw the best in me. I was a good player because he made it easier for me to play.

“Everybody believes that English football is all about playing the ball up, not keeping it on the ground, but Arsène has his own idea of football and it made it easier for us. He wanted us to play football the right way, he wanted us to enjoy it by passing the ball around and that’s what we did.

“It was very easy to adjust when you saw the fans. The supporters are behind you and they love you and what you are doing and that means you have to do more. If you keep doing more, they keep loving you and it was very easy for them to adopt me”.

“I had the skills and the tricks the fans really love. When I left Arsenal I still had the fans on my mind and since then I’ve been supporting the club,” he concluded.

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