When the invitation to attend Nwankwo Kanu’s 24th birthday party fell in to the High Press News mailbox, we felt like it wasn’t something we could bat off with a half-arsed response over WhatsApp. We had to attend. This is our story.
Walking along the rigid cobble leading up to Nwankwo Kanu’s mansion, the walls parallel to me adorned with various birthday tassels and banners, it was almost impossible to get a feel for what I had got myself in to. That was until I reached the 300ft statue of Kronos, the God of Time, standing tall in the Nigerian’s garden surrounded by drooping clocks similar to those found in Dali’s The Persistence of Memory.
Kanu greeted me at the front door like a black Jay Gatsby, a champagne glass in hand containing a strange looking liquid which he calls ‘elixir’, asking me if I noticed the gargantuan statue to his right. After acknowledging that I had, Kanu informed me he was a direct descendent of Kronos. The Arsenal legend then refused to let me in to his home until I admitted that I could see the resemblance.
The air of seriousness to this whole charade was difficult to inhale. My attempts to derail this celebration by requesting to see Nwankwo’s birth certificate proved futile. The gangly striker was more than happy to take his stairlift upstairs to retrieve it and parade it around the room to anyone who was willing to pretend to care. According to the famous Nigeran’s birth certificate – which oddly takes the form of a golden sundial emblazoned with strange undecipherable hieroglyphics – Kanu’s date of birth now stands at 01/05/1994 meaning Nwankwo was 3 years old when he signed for Arsenal. Much more worryingly, it also means Kanu wasn’t alive during his first year at Ajax – an issue I raised with the Nigerian.
But, as I should have suspected, Nwankwo was quick to dispute this, taking me out in to his backyard to stand next to a remarkable series of time-keeping devices where he attempted to demonstrate how he is able to take advantage of curvatures in space-time to not only reverse the ageing process, but to also score sick goals against Chelsea when the angle is believed to be impossible for a 6’4 3 years old – a goal which Nwankwo states took an additional 6 years off his age – making him -3 by the time the full-time whistle sounded.
At 24 years old, and with his undeniable footballing ability, you would imagine more money would be there to be made a top European club. However, Kanu feels like he is maybe too old for a comeback. “When you get all the way to 24, you start feeling the training sessions more. Your eyesight, hearing, bladder, they all start to go when you get in to your early twenties.”
“Myself, Julius Aghahowa, Obafemi Martins and Yakubu are looking to join an over 20’s amateur league in Africa. The whole thing is a bit more relaxed and we will often agree to walking only games if the other team has any players in their mid-30’s.”
Visiting Kanu’s in his luxurious home left me more questions than answers. How does a man get to decide his own age? Can sick goals turn back the clock? And if Taribo West is truly 44 years of age, why was he shouting about the Great War when the birthday cake was being revealed?
This we will never know.