Nwankwo Kanu signed for Arsenal 17 years ago on Thursday. Feel old yet?

That’s right, the maverick Nigerian became an Arsenal play on this day back in 1999, and what a time he had at the club. Goals were one thing, and he scored his fair share of them (44 in 198 appearances) despite being used as a substitute more often than not.

But the goals aren’t what he remembers. Rather, the striker believes he paved the way for African players such as the Touré brothers or Didier Drogba to come to England and succeed.

“I believe I was the first [African] person who came to England and did very well,” the former Gunner said to Arsenal Player. “After that the doors opened for African talent so, with Arsenal behind me and what we did with Arsenal, everybody now tends to follow the English league.”

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM: Kanu (R) of Arsenal celebrates his goal against Ajax with team-mate Dennis Bergkamp during a 'Dennis Bergkamp' testimonial match at Emirates stadium in north London, 22 July 2006.The match played in honour of Arsenal's Dutch player Dennis Bergkamp who has served the club for 11 years and will retire after the game is the first match played at the club's new stadium.Arsenal defeated Ajax 2-1. AFP PHOTO / ODD ANDERSEN (Photo credit should read ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Kanu also scored the first Arsenal goal at the Emirates Stadium when he appeared in Dennis Bergkamp’s testimonial match. (ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)

The Nigerian was incredibly talented, producing skills and goals that nobody else would even consider attempting, but he has credited Arsène Wenger for allowing him to flourish.

“When I came over I saw a good coach who saw the best in me. I was a good player because he made it easier for me to play,” he insisted.

“It was very easy to adjust when you saw the fans. The supporters are behind you and they love you and what you are doing and that means you have to do more. If you keep doing more, they keep loving you and it was very easy for them to adopt me.

“I had the skills and the tricks the fans really love. When I left Arsenal I still had the fans on my mind and since then I’ve been supporting the club.”