Nwankwo Kanu recalled
the day his wife Amara saved his life and then nursed him back to
health. After putting their three children to bed, the Arsenal legend
and his wife were enjoying the peace and quiet.
They were about to go to sleep, but the former striker’s hammering
heartbeat was keeping Amara awake. She recalls: “His heartbeat sounded
much louder than normal. I was listening to his chest and it sounded
In 1996, Kanu had needed lifesaving open-heart surgery after being
diagnosed with a heart valve defect. Amara, 30, couldn’t shake the
niggling feeling that was something wasn’t quite right and insisted her
husband get it checked immediately.
Kanu, now 40, says: “She was saying I should go for a check-up so I
took her advice.” And Amara was proved right because experts told him
there was further damage to his heart and he urgently needed a second
“It was the same faulty valve,” she says. “It was like a ticking time
bomb. It’s just one of those things we were lucky to find out.” Not
only did she save his life, Amara also nursed him back to health.
Kanu’s first open-heart surgery was in 1996 after a routine medical
examination at Inter Milan revealed the serious heart defect. He was a
professional athlete at the top of his game and had just helped Nigeria
win gold at the Olympics.
It was a complete shock but Kanu says: “Now I know that being fit and strong doesn’t make your heart 100%.”