Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughA tribute to the evergreen Kanu - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough A tribute to the evergreen Kanu - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

A tribute to the evergreen Kanu


Kanu has been an excellent servant to the sport worldwide with a career spanning over 500 first class games and 87 International caps. His demi-god status in his native Nigeria is almost matched by the warmth and respect he is revered with throughout Britain having earned it throughout his long career.

Kanu arrived at Portsmouth already in the twilight of his career, as part of a ploy in keeping with the philosophy of the then manager Harry Redknapp. Until he was blessed with the funds of a big club like Spurs, Harry was known as a wily wheeler-dealer, though calling him that to his face was always risky. The purchase of Kanu was exactly what Harry was about, taking an ageing yet brilliantly talented footballer and eeking every last ounce of class from him.

Kanu has been with Portsmouth through the highs and the lows and it was his scrambled goal that secured Portsmouth’s FA cup victory, taking them into their first European campaign. Since then Kanu has been awarded contract extension after contract extension, but many have viewed this more as a thank you for previous services than an acknowledgement that he still has a major role to play.

Today under Michael Appleton there is no footballing role for Kanu at the club. His constant back trouble and lack of match fitness mean he has not even played as part of the new regime. I watched him in his last appearance for Portsmouth and I can see why Appleton has his doubts. On the ball Kanu still had the class, vision and control that earned his reputation, but his legs and possibly even desire, were shot to pieces. It led me to wish we were playing the opposition on a half size pitch, at 5-a-side, or even 15 minute halves, that way King would have won the game single handedly I am sure.

No one really knows Kanu’s age, on paper he is 35 but even after the FA cup victory in 2008 Redknapp joked he was more like 50 than 30.  The fact it is common practice for African to label themselves as younger than they really are means that Kanu really could be that old. In any way the fast and brutal pace of the English league has finally got too much for the old campaigner and I really hope the financial plight of the club doesn’t overshadow the end of a shining light for Portsmouth FC.

The current financial position of Portsmouth FC means that relics of the club’s recent golden era have long since moved and with bids to further slash the wage bill,  targetting the likes of Tal Ben Haim, it is most likely that Kanu’s remaining year on his contract will either be cut short or, if rumours are to be believed, a lucrative deal to the Middle East may be brokered as a final payday for a great career.

The risk is that if his contract is terminated or he is shipped off for a quick paycheck this will never allow the fans to show their appreciation. One only has to look at the reception Benjani received on his return to Fratton Park to see the warmth Portsmouth supporters have for their players.

True, there will be opportunities for testimonials and ‘Legends’ matches to celebrate his career and, given that these provide prime opportunities to raise funds, I am sure they will be thought about long and hard but, quite simply, they do not provide the same atmosphere.

With 2 matches left of the season and relegation almost a certainty there is an opportunity to give his one last run out, one last opportunity for the fans to show their appreciation and I hope it is something Appleton is sensitive to. The King deserves to be remembered at this club as a footballer and not a financial burden that had to be cut for the good of the club. 

Fratton Park and the funds of Portsmouth FC probably aren’t the best settings for the unveiling of statues at this moment in time but in memory of the FA cup victory and in memory of a fantastic footballer that clearly loves the club would it be obscene to suggest this as an idea for the future? No matter what the decision I want to use this as an opportunity to say thank you for all you have done. Long live the King.

For more Football Blogs and opinion from football fans around the world