Football

Arsenal legendary boss Wenger applauds Nwankwo Kanu

ARSENE WENGER has named Nigerian striker and Arsenal cult hero Nwankwo Kanu as his best ever January signing in 20 years at the club.
Kanu, who arrived in North London from Inter Milan in 1999 for £4 million became an important squad member in two title-winning Arsenal campaigns, including the Invincibles team in 2003-4.
“He was a huge player.”
Arsene Wengersaid: “Despite Thierry Henry joining that summer and emerging as the team’s first choice striker, Kanu made an immediate impact in his first 18 months at the club and would go on to play an important role off the bench throughout his time at Arsenal.”
Kanu’s introduction to English football began with controversy after latching on to a throw in and setting up Marc Overmars for a contentious winner against Sheffield United in the FA Cup. The throw was intended for United’s goalkeeper who had kicked the ball out so his teammate could receive treatment – Wenger conceded it was poor sportsmanship after the game and the tie was replayed, which Arsenal won.
The remainder of the season saw Kanu score 6 goals from 12 league appearances and his good form would carry into his first full season, scoring 16 goals in 49 appearances, his best return for the club.
For many Arsenal fans, Kanu is best remembered for an irresistible 15-minute hat-trick against Chelsea in 1999. Two goals down at Stamford Bridge, Kanu single handedly snatched victory, completing the turnaround with a superb finish from a tight angle.
Speaking to beIN Sports, Wenger specified Kanu’s mid-season impact as the reason he ranks the Nigerian above the likes of Nicolas Anelka, Emmanuel Eboue, Kolo Toure, Theo Walcott and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as his best January signing.
“What a difficult question. Over 20 years, maybe Kanu. In the middle of the season. That had a big impact and he was a huge player.”
Kanu would complete five and a half seasons at the club before moving to West Bromwich Albion in 2004 and finishing his career at Portsmouth.
He was Nigeria’s joint most capped player for a time with 87 (now Joseph Yobo), helping them to Olympic gold in 1996 and playing in two World Cups.

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