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Cult Heroes: Nwankwo Kanu at Portsmouth

Cult Heroes: Nwankwo Kanu at Portsmouth - Portsmouth

After eight years away, Portsmouth will be making their return to Wembley Stadium on March 31st when they face Sunderland in the EFL trophy.

With the game close to being a sell-out between two of League One’s biggest clubs, Pompey supporters will be hoping that their side can replicate the success of their FA Cup triumph in 2008 which made one player a cult hero at Fratton Park.

Having impressed during a five-year stay at Arsenal, Nwankwo Kanu spent two seasons at West Bromwich Albion before Harry Redknapp decided to bring him to Portsmouth in 2006.

An instant success at the club, the Nigerian marksman top-scored in his debut season with 12 goals in all competitions as the south coast side finished ninth in the Premier League standings ahead of the likes of Newcastle United, Manchester City and Aston Villa.

Yet despite displaying his talents in the league albeit sporadically during a six-year stint at the club, Kanu’s exploits in the FA Cup saw him play a significant role in leading his side to the final as his goal against former side West Brom secured a first final appearance in 69 years.

Despite Portsmouth entering the clash as favourites against Championship opponents Cardiff City, the game was very even until the 37th minute when the ex-Arsenal forward made his mark, firing past keeper Peter Enckelman, sparking incredible scenes amongst the club’s supporters. Redknapp’s tactical nous ensured that his side kept the Bluebirds out for the remainder of the game, securing their first, and only major honour of the 21st Century.

Far from being just a goal, Kanu’s crisp strike also secured a UEFA Cup place for the following season which provided a number of famous nights at Fratton Park. Arguably the best European tie occurred against Italian giants AC Milan who had the legendary Ronaldinho playing for them at the time. In a superb game of football, Kanu added to his legacy by scoring the second of his side’s goals before the aforementioned Brazilian and Filippo Inzaghi secured a draw for I Rossoneri.

The forward’s relationship with the club, however, could have been remembered for different reasons if he had decided to continue his pursuit of suing (as per the Sun) the club for the money that he believed he was owed. Pompey’s financial difficulties saw the club enter administration during Kanu’s time at the club yet he decided to drop the case after his retirement in 2012.

Undoubtedly a hero at the club for his exploits on the pitch, the Nigeria international created a memory that Portsmouth fans will cherish for years to come, setting a benchmark for the current crop of players to try and reach.


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Article title: Cult Heroes: Nwankwo Kanu at Portsmouth

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