STAR INTERVIEW: Kanu was special – Overmars


Former Arsenal and Ajax great Marc Overmars cast a nostalgic gaze over his career and reckons former teammates Kanu Nwankwo and Finidi George had special talents in their Ajax days despite a lack of structured football upbringing in their native Nigeria.


The trio was members of the famous Ajax team between 1993 and 1996 during which they won the UEFA Champions League before the Nigerians left, Kanu for Italy’s Inter Milan and Finidi to Spain’s Real Betis.


Overmars spent another year at the Dutch giants before moving to Arsenal where he was reunited with Kanu and where they both became integral members of the ‘Invincible’ Arsenal side which went a whole season unbeaten.


The former Netherlands international flew back to north London to star in the Arsenal Legends’ 4-2 victory over Milan Glorie and gushed over his ex-teammates as Kanu stole the headlines.


Back at his clinical best, Kanu’s well-taken hat-trick was the main talking point after the final whistle, but his performance came as no surprise to Marc, who remembers the first time he saw the former Nigeria striker play.


“I don’t think Kanu had ever played on a normal pitch before he joined us at Ajax,” the Dutchman laughs. “He didn’t know where to run. I remember once he had to take a throw-in and we called for the ball, so he pushed the ball out from his chest!


“These guys didn’t have the education as young players but we saw in the first training session that they were special. Kanu had so much quality and it was the same with Finidi George. They had something that we didn’t have. We had all learned how to play football on the streets, but their football upbringing was much more raw, and you can see how they benefitted from that.”


Marc certainly has lots to get excited about this year. Not only have Ajax qualified for the knockout stage of the Europa League, the club’s under-19s are also looking good in the Youth League.
With a first-team, academy, women’s team and the Ajax’s finances to oversee, you’d think Marc wouldn’t have the time to keep an eye on his former clubs’ results – but that couldn’t be further from the truth.


“I still love Arsenal and that is the same for my wife and two children,” he says. “We follow them, we support Arsenal and we also try to visit the training ground once a year to have coffee with the boss or Steve Bould. It’s very important that there are still people working for Arsenal who were there 20 or 25 years ago. I like traditions and I have respect for the past. That’s why if we go back to visit Arsenal, it gives us a good feeling.”


Original interview in


RANT OF THE DAY, Uncategorized

RANT OF THE DAY: Xhaka’s one day, one trouble for Arsenal

Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka is a talented player but a conflicted person, apparently on and off the pitch.

24 hours after he was sent off during his team’s 2-1 victory in the Premier League, the Swiss was involved in another incident, this time potentially more serious than just the small matter of missing a couple of games.

The Arsenal midfielder was reportedly interviewed under caution by police following an allegation he racially abused an airline staff member at Heathrow on Monday night.

The Switzerland international is believed to have been with a friend who had visited him in London and was returning home.

The friend was understood to have arrived late for his flight back to Germany and was not allowed to board and Xhaka was at this point infuriated and allegedly racially abused a member of the airline staff.

Arsenal have declined to comment other than to say it is a private matter that is now in the hands of the police.





However, beyond the decision of the club not to comment on this latest infraction by the player, there are underlying currents capable of bursting to the surface at anytime if Xhaka’s issue is not decisively addressed.

Already there are reports of an impending showdown talks between Arsene Wenger and the player whom he had accused of punishing the team each time he gets himself into avoidable trouble on the pitch.

Xhaka is undoubtedly gifted. One of the better performers in his position in the Premier League so far this season. But like all gifted but troubled prodigies, the 24-year old risks throwing his talents down the drain if he doesn’t keep his temper in check.



One day, one trouble will not a great career make. Xhaka must take a very hard look in the mirror and decide if he likes the man staring back at him.

Will he be willing to become a truly great midfielder – which his talent suggests he can be – or will he be contented to be just another player in the midst of millions with nothing to stand him out?

The call is his alone to make but Arsenal must help him make the decision if he wants to stay and achieve great things at the club or if his stay could continue to hurt the team.

By the way, for stats freaks, Sunday’s sending off was the ninth red card shown to Xhaka in the last three years.