Skip to main content

Games That Changed My Life: Nwankwo Kanu tells FFT the defining matches that made him

Nwankwo Kanu
(Image credit: Getty)

Nwankwo Kanu is one of the most iconic Premier League footballers of all time. The Nigerian won it all, too, picking up a Champions League medal in 1995 with Ajax, winning an Olympic gold a year later and being part of Inter Milan's UEFA Cup-winning side of 1998 – before winning two titles with Arsenal and being the star of Portsmouth's 2008 FA Cup side. 

Here, he tells FourFourTwo about the matches that changed his life...

This article first appeared Issue 299 of FourFourTwo. Subscribe now! (opens in new tab)

1. Ajax 1 Milan 0 (1995 Champions League final)

“At that time, I didn’t know the value of the Champions League. Louis van Gaal was telling us that we’d be remembered throughout history if we won. I came on for Clarence Seedorf in the second half, and Patrick Kluivert scored in the 85th minute. The celebrations in Amsterdam were different from when we won the league. After that, I understood what it is to play in a Champions League final.”

2. Nigeria 4 Brazil 3 (1996 Olympic semi-final)

“We played Brazil’s dream team – they had Ronaldo, Bebeto, Juninho, Roberto Carlos [left] – and we had no chance of beating them. 

“We were 3-1 down but got it back to 3-2. Then I made it 3-3 and it went to the golden goal. I scored again and we qualified for the final. It was a great game – Africa is still talking about it today. It was one of the best games I ever played in, and we went on to win gold by beating Argentina 3-2.”

3. Chelsea 2 Arsenal 3 (Premier League, 1999)

“We were 2-0 down when I came on. I made it 2-1, then 2-2, and the goal for my hat-trick was wonderful – fantastic. There was a minute or two to go, I got the ball, Ed de Goey was sprinting out, and my head was like, ‘Whoa’. It was an impossible angle, but my target was to hit the corner – and I did it. My friend, Celestine Babayaro, had told De Goey I was going to do that but it still worked. Every Arsenal fan remembers this goal.”

4. Cardiff 0 Portsmouth 1 (2008 FA Cup final)

“Nobody believed Portsmouth could win the FA Cup. We thought, ‘Is it going to happen? Is it a dream?’ We had won the semi-final at Wembley 1-0 against my old team, West Brom, and I scored. Before the final against Cardiff, Harry Redknapp said, ‘This is the game I need you in.’ I scored the only goal, and it’s a game I’ll live to remember. Pompey fans still talk about it. Winning the FA Cup is one of my best achievements.”

For a limited time, you can get five copies of FourFourTwo for just £5 (opens in new tab)! The offer ends on May 2, 2022.

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1