Arsenal legend Nwaknkwo Kanu earned the adoration of the Emirates once more with his performance in Saturday’s Legends game but the former Nigerian international was more concerned with the good he was doing off the field.
Kanu scored the hat-trick he had promised pre-match as an Arsenal Legends side ran out 4-2 winners over a star-studded Milan Glorie XI in front of Emirates crowd.
The match was the cornerstone of the Arsenal Foundation’s bid to raise over £1million, with which they intend to build football pitches in Jordan, Somalia and London.
For Kanu, whose own heart foundation aims to provide life-saving surgery to youngsters across Africa, it was the results off the pitch that mattered more than his own display.
“I had that feeling that it would be a special day for me and luckily for me that’s just what happened, I got my hat-trick,”
he told Standard Sport.
“It feels good. We are here for one thing, the Arsenal Foundation, to raise money for them and we did that. I’m happy that the Arsenal supporters all came out to support a good cause. With my foundation I’ve saved 500 lives so I know what it takes and how people feel when you do the right thing.
“When I started I didn’t have very good pitches, for the young kids to have that is so great. What Arsenal are doing is so important and I’m very pleased to play my part in it.”
Kanu’s hat-trick, his first in an Arsenal shirt since his legendary treble against Chelsea in 1999, earned him chants of “Wenger sign him up” from the Emirates crowd. The 40-year-old is certainly keen “as part of the coaching staff, that’d be nice!”
He certainly made his impression on his former boss after the match, with Arsene Wenger saying:
“The surprise was Kanu, because nobody knew where he played and he turned up with something special again.
“Players like Freddie Ljungberg and Robert Pires are still completely fit, and Kolo Toure I’m not surprised about because he still plays for Celtic.
“The class has not gone, the quality has not gone – the legs a little bit! But not too much. They had enough resources to make the game enjoyable. It is a great afternoon and that shows our values at the club because we raised one million pounds for the charity and we can be very proud of that.”