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African Voices

Nwankwo Kanu: Supporting football with strong foundations

  • Story Highlights
  • Nigerian footballer is European Cup and English Premier League winner
  • Age 19, told he could never play football again after hole was found in his heart
  • A UNICEF ambassador has also set up two charitable foundations
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(CNN) -- One of Africa's most successful footballers, Nwankwo Kanu, has had a glittering career on the pitch.

The 6 ft 5 in Nigerian footballer has used his sizable stature in the game to help many others.

The 6 ft 5 in Nigerian footballer has used his sizable stature in the game to help many others.

Winning a gold medal with Nigeria in the 1996 Olympic Games he has also won the European Cup with Ajax; the English Premier League Title and FA Cup with Arsenal in 2002, and in 2008 scored the winning goal for Portsmouth in the FA Cup Final.

But off the pitch, Kanu has worked just as hard to improve the lives of others.

He set up the Kanu Heart Foundation in 2000 that raises money to help children with hearth defects. It's an issue that Kanu is particularly connected to.

In 1995, when he was already a double-European Cup finalist, Kanu was told by a doctor for Inter Milan, the club he had just signed for, that he a faulty value in his heart.

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Saturday, June 6: 12.30 and 21.30 GMT
Sunday, June 7: 18.00 GMT

He was told he could never play football again. However he spent 14 months rehabilitating and then moved to Arsenal in England and arguably had the most successful years of his career.

Now nearing the end of his career, Kanu has set up another foundation. Founded in 2008, The Kanu Football Foundation aims to help advise young African footballer who can face all sorts of pressures when trying to become a professional football and avoid being exploited.

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