The Kanu Heart Foundation was founded in 2000 by Nwankwo Kanu; Nigeria’s football hero, in the sense of, his God given talent, his resistance to give into the heart defect he was diagnosed as having and his determination to help save underprivileged African children by offering cardiovascular procedures.
Nwankwo Kanu is Africa’s most decorated football player, with a large collection of accolades from Premier Leagues across Europe and FIFA competition (to mention a few); and is giving back to the African continent, through the Foundation.
Standing tall at 6’5, football striker Nwankwo Kanu known as ‘KANU‘ chose football as a profession and began to play at that level as early as age fifteen. The number of trophies won for his country and clubs, over the years is a record targeted by most Nigerian players and yet to be emulated.
In Ajax (Amsterdam), he dominated the Dutch scene and made the name Kanu a household name in Europe, with a double win of the prestigious UEFA Champions Leagues Cup.
He was later signed to Inter-Milan FC (Italy), where he became the darling of Inter Milan fans as soon as he stepped out and whilst wearing the No.25 jersey at Highbury when with Arsenal FC (England), he created a following of one of the biggest football fans followership in Nigeria and indeed Africa.
In 2008, he was voted thirteenth by the Arsenal fans in their list of the fifty greatest players in the history of the club. His style on the pitch is so unique and Nigerian fans do still mimic one of Kanu’s celebrative moments when he scored the winning goal against Brazil at Atlanta Olympics in 1996 for his national team. For them, ‘Papilo did the Nigerian flag proud.’ His fashion statement outside the football pitch is quite remarkable and very much in comparison to the pattern of his several goals in the biggest league games in Europe.
Kanu Nwankwo and KidsIt was after his Atlanta 1996 Gold Medal that his soccer career nearly came to a halting end, based on a medical tragedy. He was diagnosed with a heart defect that threatened to cut short an amazing career that only a gifted talented, focused and hardworking individual could amass. With his firm faith in God, he underwent the heart surgery successfully in Cleveland Hospital, Ohio. USA and has since returned to play football professionally.
Kanu, the twice CAF African Footballer of the Year was moved by the public’s concern shown Kanu Nwankwo towards him during his rehabilitation period; that he set up the most famous Charity(NGO) in his homeland Nigeria with the aim of serving the entire African continent. It was Kanu’s semi and final FA Cup scored goals (the only goals in the two games) that brought the FA Cup back to Fratton Park for his current club Portsmouth in May 2008, after an absence of 69 years and the opportunity to play in Europe this season. In October 2008, Kanu together with his team mates received the Freedom of at the City (award given to Men of Distinction) by Portsmouth city in honour of winning the FA cup.
Kanu, as founder of KHF, is determined to see that five KHF hospitals are built in Africa to ease the problem of undetected heart disease and corrective surgery.
Kanu is also a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and works to help children in all circumstances the most recent project being, aiding the homeless children of Lagos done during the English Premiership season break between June and July 2008