It’s a story which stretches credulity. But when the dust finally settles on the season just gone, one particular chapter will ignite the imagination of football fans forever and a day. Indeed, so incredible is the tale that bookmakers throughout the land would have struggled to give you odds on it happening.
But back to the story in hand and exactly how it came to pass that former Arsenal striker Kanu, now a leading marketing executive at his own company, Kandu Holdings, won a wager by convincing three top flight sides to change their nicknames mid-season.
Ex-Nigerian international Kanu, a favourite amongst Gunners fans, bet ex-Highbury keeper Alex Manninger £200 that he held such powers of persuasion that he could dupe the clubs in to dumping years of history and heritage and change their monikers for monetary gain.
Only when the power-brokers at the clubs involved were poised to push the green button and tell the world about the exciting new development did Kanu let them know that the whole episode had been a ruse.
Kanu, who won two Premier League titles and two FA Cup winners’ medals under Arsene Wenger, had targeted three London outfits for his wickedly duplicitous stratagem: Chelsea, West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur. All three would provide challenges but Kanu hadn’t lived his life getting over his first name, Nwankwo, without developing a certain sense of resolve.
After initial meetings, hundreds of electronic correspondences (latterly known as emails) and protracted legal negotiations the respective head honchos (Bruce Buck, David Golds/David Sullivan and Daniel Levy) had all settled on the new nicknames.
Chelsea, formerly known as the Blues, were to become the Nefarious Troglodytes; West Ham United, known as the Hammers (though among certain fans the colloquialism the Irons was more often used) would change to the Candy Trumpets and Tottenham, known as both Spurs and the Lillywhites, would become the Trophy NIshmans.
Vek Cascarino-Chophouse, Kanu’s business partner, explained:
“We worked long and hard to convince the men at the top of each club that a change in direction as far as their identity was concerned was vital to their success with commercial partners. They bargained hard but we stuck firm and showed that with their new nicknames they would enter a new era of huge financial benefits.
“It was only when the deals had been done and we were awaiting the final green light that kana dropped the bomb and revealed what he had been up to. It was very much a case of japing all round although, it has to be said, they consider us pesky numbskulls now. We’re not, though obviously. Alex Manninger smiled when he handed over the £200 – and so did we!”