“Something mythical, lanky and feeble like a mal-nourished child on the football field. You may show some compassion when he is with the ball. Yet, he is always on top of the game playing a mysterious style, scoring all kind of goals from what seem impossible angles. Nwankwo Kanu is everything a football player should not be, except that he is a champion. He has defeated poverty, he has defeated death and he has saved many lives.” – Benson Chukwueke
I was opportune to see him on the streets of Owerri. Just like an ordinary boy who always play football inside the township school field in the capital city of Imo State Nigeria. You may not even have a second glance at him; there is nothing so special about him except the way he plays football I must confess, It is something mythical. He looks so impoverished even among his peers at the ministry of works football club.
Who would have known that Nwankwo Kanu would later stand out to become the only Nigeria football living legend? A public poll conducted by Silverbird Television and Vanguard newspapers in 2008 voted Kanu as the only football player among elite personalities in Nigeria as he came second ahead of contestants such as Prof. Wole Soyinka, Odimegwu Ojukwu, Gani Fawenmi, Prof. Dora Akuniyere etc.
More than a decade now, Kanu has always made the headline news.
• He first won the Nigeria National league with Iwuanyawu Nationale F.C of Owerri in 1992.
• He won the under16 world cup in 1994
• UEFA champions league with Ajax F.C of Holland in 1995
• He won the Olympic gold medal in Atlanta USA in 1996
• He won the UEFA cup with Inter Milan F.C of Milan Italy in 1998
• He won the English Premiership league and English F.A cup with Arsenal F.C of England in 2001
• He won English FA cup again with Portmount FC of England in 2007
• He is two times winner of African footballer of the year in 1997 and 1999.
During these period, Kanu survived a life threaten heart dysfunction, which also threatened his football career. Today, he has “The Kanu heart foundation” which has treated many children who suffered different kind of heart disease.
Just few days ago, Kanu was on the news again. He is being recognized as Ambassador for the Commonwealth. He got the attention of the queen of England.
Kanu truly is a role model to the youth in Africa. He is hope for the young ghetto boy on the street without food. He is faith for the sick that they can be well again.
Let us him more on the spotlight as our own super hero. Let his story be told in schools, rehabilitation homes, and hospitals. Let him be cartooned on television for our children to see their own super hero. For me, I have written a poem to tell his story.
The Great Giraffe
A god has been born to us
But we did not know it
The wise men from the east saw the star
But did not know it
Didn’t the prophet foretell his coming
Didn’t the mother know it
The mother who first felt the kick in her belly
The delicate kick of a prodigious child
Who had a disease of an open heart
Who fought death to have his life back
Where upon the great giraffe began his conquest
Taking victory to Japan
To Amsterdam, Atlanta, Milan
Taking it to the heart of London
Playing mysterious styles
Scoring goals which no man has ever scored before
Where upon his name begin to move
From mouth to mouth
Kanu! Kanu! Kanu!
The god of soccer is with us.