Former Captain of the Super Eagles, Nwankwo Kanu, who is happy with the partnership Nigeria’s foremost telecommunications provider, MTN has entered with his former English Premier League giants, Arsenal, has expressed his readiness to ensure that Nigerian youths benefit tremendously from the deal.
The football legend and one of the few Nigerians to have been named African Player of the Year twice acknowledged that the deal is a great one that has actually brought two heavyweights together. Speaking when the deal was penned at the prestigious IMAX Cinema in Lekki Phase One, Lagos. Kanu said repeatedly that he wants to ensure that the deal transcends a partnership just for two years to one that can give a fresh and forward looking breath to Nigerian football and wants to be a vehicle to drive that process.
“MTN has now challenged me to go all the way and ensure that I bring Arsenal bigger and better to Africa’s most populous nation and that is why I will talk to them about the need to do an Academy here. I am committed to it and will work for it” declared the golden boy of Nigerian football.
Simply put Kanu said the MTN deal with Arsenal has gingered him to look for new Kanus, Okochas, Babayaros, Chukwus, Finidis, Olisehs,Yekinis, Rufais, Enyeama, Akpoms, Iwobi, Etim Esins, even Keshis and more. “Thank you MTN Nigeria for waking me up, together we can make Nigerian football bigger and better and a football academy will not be too big for that. The event was well graced with the presence of personalities like MTN Nigeria Chairman, Pascal Dozie, MTN COO, Muhammad Siddiqui and the best of Nigerian sporting press. The searchlight was beamed on the ex-stars Kanu and his former national teammate, Celestine Babayaro, who were the cynosure of all eyes at the event. Arsenal was also represented by a powerful team led by the chief partnership officer, Gordon Tannock.
Tony Ubani, who presides over the affairs of the Nigerian Guild of Sports Editors, was apt as usual in describing Kanu and his relationship with MTN and Arsenal. “This one is a deal made in heaven and we have to commend the union and put pressure on Kanu, that with the fan base of Arsenal in Nigeria he we can do more to churn out stars not only for Arsenal but all the big club-sides in the world,” stressed Ubani. Babayaro, though in the opposition, Chelsea FC, also has kind words for the deal between Arsenal and MTN, but he will not start until he throws a jibe at Kanu.
“The deal is one of the very best that has ever happened to Nigerian football but I must tell my friend Kanu not to be carried away and feel that because Arsenal is coming to Nigeria with MTN, Chelsea will not win the league and keep defeating Arsenal, that won’t happen,” joked the former Nigerian defender. But his reply, Kanu also jabbed Babayaro, stressing that going by history, “Arsenal and Chelsea are no mate. That is why Chelsea always runs to Arsenal to buy players groomed by Prof Arsene Wenger.”
He said he will not mention names but Babayaro knows better and he should be honest about which of the two sides was better.