Nwankwo Kanu is not only the former captain of the Nigerian national soccer team, but he also goes to a great length in doing charity work. Born in Nigeria, he started to show his soccer talent on the Dutch Ajax team by scoring 25 goals in 54 performances in his first year in Ajax. He also led the Nigerian team win the Olympic Gold Medal in 1996. He was named African Footballer of the Year in the same year. In his charity path, he launched Kanu Heart Foundation, which he claimed as his proudest achievement. At the same time, he is a UNICEF ambassador.
Just after winning the Olympics, he was diagnosed with a heart valve defect, underwent surgery and did not return to his career for almost a year. Because of his experience, he started his Kanu Heart Foundation to make sure children with heart problems are able to obtain heart surgeries, especially underprivileged children in Africa. Through this organization, hospitals provide surgical heart transplants, laser surgeries and more.
“These kids remind me of when I was growing up as a little boy,” Kanu said to BBC Sport. “There’s no amount of success on the football pitch that can give me more smiles than the numbers of lives I’ve touched.” He wants to put smiles on the face of every child who deserves the chance to pursue their dreams.
According to its official website, the Kanu Heart Foundation has undertaken 452 open heart surgeries since the foundation was first established in 2000. All sponsored surgeries are done in countries such as England, Israel, India and Sudan. The Cardiac Specialist Hospital will offer free surgeries for children from 1 to 12 years old and those for adults will be subsidized.
– Jing Xu