Kanu Nwankwo says his success at Arsenal ‘opened the doors’ for more African footballers to play in the Premier League. Today Thursday, February 18, marks the 17th anniversary of Kanu signing for the club, and the 39-year-old has fond memories of his time in north London.
The former Nigeria striker joined the Gunners in 1999 and went on to score 44 goals in 198 appearances, helping the Gunners lift two Premier League trophies and two FA Cups during his five years at the club.
“I believe I was the first African person who came to England and did very well,” he told Arsenal Player. “After that the doors opened for African talent so, with Arsenal behind me and what we did with Arsenal, everybody now tends to follow the English league.
“When I came over I saw a good coach who saw the best in me. I was a good player because he made it easier for me to play.
“Everybody believes that English football is all about playing the ball up, not keeping it on the ground, but Arsène has his own idea of football and it made it easier for us. He wanted us to play football the right way, he wanted us to enjoy it by passing the ball around and that’s what we did
“It was very easy to adjust when you saw the fans. The supporters are behind you and they love you and what you are doing and that means you have to do more. If you keep doing more, they keep loving you and it was very easy for them to adopt me.
“I had the skills and the tricks the fans really love. When I left Arsenal I still had the fans on my mind and since then I’ve been supporting the club.”
Credit: The Arsenal Football Club