Arsenal’s defence will be stronger under Unai Emery–Kanu

No-one at Inter Milan doubted the health of 20-year-old powerhouse forward Nwankwo Kanu when he signed for the club in the summer of 1996.

He had scored 25 goals in 54 games for Ajax, won the Champions League a summer earlier and was about to captain Nigeria to Olympic gold,National Daily learnt.

It perhaps seemed natural to waive his signing through without a medical. When Kanu eventually returned from Atlanta for his examinations he was told an ineffective aortic valve would likely end his football career.

That he went on to play for another 15 years was remarkable but it pails into insignificance compared to the 542 lives the Kanu Heart Foundation has saved since it was set up in Nigeria in 2000.

Kanu returns to London next month for a charity match to raise the money to provide life-saving treatment for another 200 youngsters in Nigeria, as well as to build a new cardiac centre in Abuja that will mean the charity no longer has to fly children and their families to India and the United Kingdom for life-saving operations.

Ex international said “When they have these heart issues these kids don’t smile, don’t play, they are quiet. After the operation they fly.

Nwankwo added won’t be on his own at the Hive on September 30, with a host of familiar faces certain to warm the hearts of Arsenal fans lining up alongside the 42-year-old.

“When you talk about the Invincibles, they are people with big hearts. People who want it. Even the coach, sometimes when we went to the game he was not bothered because he knew we were going to win.”

For all the undeniable talent of Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey and Alexandre Lacazette the silverware carousel is notably less populated than in the five and a half seasons Kanu was in north London.

If Emery can guarantee that then Kanu and his team-mates status as the last Arsenal squad to win the Premier League may just be at an end.