Nwankwo Kanu: 4 Games That Defined Arsenal Legend’s Career Including Olympic Win Against Brazil

Nwankwo Kanu: 4 Games That Defined Arsenal Legend’s Career Including Olympic Win Against Brazil

Martin Moses
updated at July 8, 2023 at 6:56 AM
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  • Kanu Nwankwo is undoubtedly one of the most successful African footballers of all time
  • The Arsenal legend has an impressive CV that includes Olympic Games and Champions League titles
  • He previously reflected on the games that defined his illustrious career across different competitions

That Nwankwo Kanu is a legend, especially in African football circles, is hard to argue with. The Nigerian forward was among the pioneer footballers from the continent to have enjoyed success abroad.

He won the Champions League with Ajax in 1995, and the UEFA Cup with Inter Milan in 1996, before winning two Premier League titles with Arsenal under Arsene Wenger. He was also part of the Nigerian team that won the Olympics title in 1996.

Kanu Nwankwo, Arsenal, Nigeria 1996 Olympics
Kanu Nwankwo celebrates with his Nigerian teammates during the 1996 Olympics. Photo by Bob Thomas Sports Photography.
Source: Getty Images

The now 46-year-old reflected on his career and dived into the games that made him who he was during his playing days, in an interview with 442.

1. Nigeria 4 Brazil 3

1996 Olympic semi-final

Playing against Brazil and beating them is always a huge achievement, not least from an unfancied side from Africa. The South American giants are always difficult to beat, but the Super Eagles managed it in the 1996 Olympics semi-final, and did so in a remarkable way.

"We were 3-1 down but got it back to 3-2. Then I made it 3-3 and it went to the golden goal. I scored again and we qualified for the final. It was a great game – Africa is still talking about it today. It was one of the best games I ever played in, and we went on to win gold by beating Argentina 3-2."

2. Ajax 1 Milan 0

1995 Champions League final

After the Olympic success, the Champions League triumph with Ajax ranks highly on Kanu's list of achievements. He admitted that beforehand he did not know how much it meant to win Europe's elite prize.

"I came on for Clarence Seedorf in the second half, and Patrick Kluivert scored in the 85th minute. The celebrations in Amsterdam were different from when we won the league. After that, I understood what it is to play in a Champions League final.”

3. Chelsea 2 Arsenal 3

1999 Premier League

Not many players score hat tricks in the Premier League, but for Kanu, he got his in a memorable fashion against London rivals, Chelsea.

"We were 2-0 down when I came on. I made it 2-1, then 2-2, and the goal for my hat-trick was wonderful – fantastic. Every Arsenal fan remembers that goal."

4. Cardiff 0 Portsmouth 1

2008 FA Cup final

This was the perfect definition of the 'Kan U believe it?' mantra associated with Kanu. No one was backing Portsmouth to win the FA Cup final.

"I scored the only goal, and it’s a game I’ll live to remember. Pompey fans still talk about it. Winning the FA Cup is one of my best achievements.”

Best African Premier League XI

Sports Brief earlier reported that Super Eagles and Arsenal legend, Kanu Nwankwo; former Chelsea midfielder, Mikel Obi; and former Bolton Wanderers and Nigeria captain, Jay Jay Okocha have been included in the Premier League's greatest Africa XI.

The list was recently announced by SuperSport, the official broadcast rights owner of the Premier League in Africa, at a special gala night in Lagos on Thursday.

The Premier League Africa XI was voted for by football fans across Africa as part of activities marking the 30th-anniversary celebration of the Premier League.

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Martin Moses
Martin Moses is a sports journalist with over five years of experience in media. He graduated from Multimedia University of Kenya (Bachelor of Journalism, 2017-2021)