Kanu Nwankwo is by all intents and purposes, Nigerian football royalty. Over the years, his Kanu Heart Foundation has done a creditable job helping children with heart defects. In a bid to raise money for the cause, the foundation is partnering with oil & gas firm, Petrolex, as title sponsor of the foundation’s legends’ charity football game, tagged the Petrolex Kanu Cup, which will hold in London on September 30, 2018 at The Hive Stadium, home of Barnet FC.
The Petrolex Kanu Cup, organised by Masters Football, a London-based events and sports promoter, will pitch two teams created from Kanu’s past: Premier League All-Stars vs. African All Stars.
The Premier League stars will be drawn from teams Kanu played for during his time in the UK -Arsenal, WBA and Portsmouth, whilst the African All Stars will be built from African players who played alongside Kanu or against him.
Promoting the match, he gave an interview to the Times of London in which he touched on a range of issues. Find below select quotes and the headings they fall under
On Arsene Wenger and Joining Arsenal
“He took a gamble on me because of my heart but he believed in me, he had scouts watching me for six months. When I came in he said, ‘No pressure on you, just relax and feel at home, I know you can do it. Once I got going out on the pitch I forgot everything about it.”
“He sacrificed a lot for the club but every beginning has an ending. The track record of the new manager is good. The time of good football and nice, nice stuff, we are going to forget that now. They will play good football but the pressure is for him to win the league. It won’t be Arsène Wenger-style.”
On the future of African Teams after their disappointing World Cup
“I can tell you things are about to change. The organisation and preparation of African teams have improved. Nigeria had the youngest team out in Russia, which means they can improve. It was the first time we have gone without issues in the camp about money or travel, everything was OK. There is sponsorship, they use chartered flights. The trust that was lost is coming back. We can do better next time.”
“A lot of our players are playing in Europe, maybe not at the biggest clubs. The gap is not too big. Take Nigeria against Argentina at the World Cup. That was the game we were supposed to lose but with four minutes to go it was 1-1. There is improvement. I can see it.”
On Getting the European Elite to the Continent
“I’ve been one of the people trying to bring them there. A lot of Nigerians love football. When I played for Arsenal it opened the doors for many fans to really love the Premier League and they did. They would love to see the clubs come to them. They don’t and they have to. Maybe they are scared, they think about malaria or whether the preparation will be good. They think in terms of security.”