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History book: Kanu Nwankwo’s historic Arsenal debut story

Today on History book , we bring back memories of Kanu Nwankwo’s historic Arsenal debut story vs Sheffield United on February 13, 1999 .


This is inspired by the historic Arsenal debut by another player of Nigerian descent Ethan Nwaneri in the Gunners 0-3 win at Brentford on Sunday September 18, 2022 .

Ethan Nwaneri
Gabriel Martineli and Ethan Nwaneri .

Just like Kanu Nwankwo’s debut for Arsenal vs Sheffield United entered the history book for its replay , Ethan Nwaneri entered the history book as the youngest player to play in the English Premier League aged 15 when he replaced Bukayo Saka for his Arsenal debut.


Kanu Nwankwo had joined the Arsene Wenger tutored Gunners In January 1999 from Italian Serie A side Inter Milan .

The lanky forward came off the bench for his debut Vs Sheffield United in the Fifth Round of the FA Cup .


11 minutes into his debut, the Nigerian forward played a part in the build up to the winning goal that caused plenty of controversy and eventually a replay of the entire game .


The ball had been kicked into touch by a Sheffield United player so one of his team-mates could receive treatment.


Kanu received possession from the resulting throw, he broke away down the right and squared for Marc Overmars to score whereas the Blades were expecting a return ball in the spirit of Sportsmanship.


Sheffield United players were outraged and pointed the finger at Kanu but like he explained after the game , he simply misunderstood the situation and was unaware that a United player had needed treatment.

The dispute was not going to be settled easily following a 2-1 win for Arsenal with the opposition accusing the Gunners of Unsportsmanlike conduct in the build-up to the winning goal .


Arsene Wenger famously offered Sheffield United a replay of the game at Highbury , a request they accepted with approval from the Football Association .


Days later , Arsenal defeated Sheffield United 2-1 in the replay at Highbury to wipe off the tag of “Unsportsmanship” .


Just like Kanu Nwankwo dominated the headlines after his debut 23 years ago , Ethan Nwaneri is on the front page of sports news stories after overtaking Liverpool star Harvey Elliott as the youngest player to appear in English Premier League history .


Despite the odd history linked to his Arsenal debut , Nwankwo Kano went on to have a successful Arsenal career , his style of play and important goals endearing him to the clubs supporters.


The first Nigerian to play for Arsenal , Kanu Nwankwo opened the path for the likes of Alex Iwobi , Bukayo Saka , Folarin Balogun and  Ethan Nwaneri to appear for the Gunners first team .


Unlike Kanu Nwankwo , Ethan Nwaneri holds a dual nationality . Nigerian by Naturalization and English by birth , Nwaneri presently represents the English Youth teams .


His appearances for the English Youth teams are non binding so he can choose to tow the footsteps of the legendary Papilo by representing the Super Eagles or follow the path of current teammate Bukayo Saka by pledging allegiance to the three lions .


That is a choice for the future which in years to come will generate stories for the History book .

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