In the 1999–2000 season, Nwankwo Kanu scored 17 times in 50 matches for Arsenal, including a hat-trick in fifteen minutes against Chelsea to turn a 2–0 deficit into a 3–2 victory. This was his first and only hat-trick for the Gunners.
He became very popular among the fans for his two-fingered salute which started in 1999 against Middlesbrough – something that he later explained was based on the team's nickname, "The Gunners". In 2008, Kanu who wore the jersey number 25 during his time with Arsenal was voted 13th in the "Gunners' Greatest 50 Players" poll.
Born in Owerri, Imo state, Nigeria, he began his career at Nigerian league club Federation Works, before moving to Iwuanyanwu Nationale. After a notable performance at the U-17 World Championships, he was signed by Dutch Eredivisie Ajax in 1993 for an undisclosed fee. He made his Ajax debut that year and went on to score 27 goals in 71 games for the club. He also came on as a substitute in Ajax's 1995 UEFA Champions League final win over A.C. Milan. And the next year he started in the 1996 UEFA Champions League Final against Juventus.
In February 1999, after just twelve league games and one goal for Inter Milan, he was signed by Arsenal for approximately £4.15 million. He became a popular among Arsenal fans for scoring important goals as a substitute. During his time with Arsenal he scored 43 goals in 197 games and was a member of the Gunners Invincible side of 2003/2004 season.
He also represented the likes of West Brom and Portsmouth were he won the FA Cup in 2008. During his time in England, he made the third-most substitute appearances in Premier League history, appearing from the bench 118 times, and is regarded as one of the best players in African football history players in African football history. The two-time African Player of the Year winner(1996 and 1999) is one of few players to have won the Premier League, FA Cup, Champions League, UEFA Cup and an Olympic Gold Medal.
He played as striker for the Nigeria national team from 1994 to 2010, making his debut in friendly against Sweden. Earlier on at the start of his career, he was instrumental in Nigeria's overall success at the 1993 FIFA U-17 tournament in Japan and their subsequent 2–1 victory over Ghana in the final. With five goals, he was second joint-scorer in the tournament with Peter Anosike and Manuel Neira, behind compatriot Captain Wilson Oruma.
As well as winning the Olympic gold in the football event at 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, where he scored the winning goal in the 4–3 semi-final win over Brazil, his second goal of the match. He participated in the 1998 and 2002 FIFA World Cups. On 24 June 2010, he ended his international career following Nigeria's exit from the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. In all, he scored 13 goals in 86 caps for the Super Eagles.
Nwankwo Kanu was 45 On Sunday, August 1st.
Source: Best Choice SportsNaijaBlog.ng