Redknapp: How Kanu’s Pompey arrival hinged on Cardiff

Hermann Hreidarsson celebrates victory over Preston, courtesy of a goal attributed to Darren Carter

Hreidarsson reveals key to Pompey winning FA Cup

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Kanu was the scourge of Cardiff at Wembley a decade ago.

And Harry Redknapp has revealed how the Bluebirds were responsible for bringing the Nigerian to Fratton Park in the first place.

Kanu parades the FA Cup. Picture: Will Caddy

Kanu parades the FA Cup. Picture: Will Caddy

The former Arsenal and West Brom striker was a free agent days ahead of the 2006-07 campaign, bringing him to Pompey’s attention.

But the signing hinged on how he fared in a behind-closed-doors reserve fixture against Cardiff.

Redknapp said: ‘Kanu was a genius, one of the all-time great players, technically amazing.

‘We were short of strikers so I’m looking through the list of players available on a free and I remember saying to Tony Adams “What about Kanu?”.

Kanu would score two of the best goals I have seen in my life, improbable goals

Harry Redknapp

‘I’d seen him play twice at West Brom the previous season while looking at opposition and thought he was great.

‘Tony Adams said “Harry, he’s got to be 47. He’s finished”. Tony spoke to the physios at Arsenal and they said he was wrecked.

‘So I rang Kanu and asked if he would be interested? “Yes, I want to play”.

‘When I asked if he had been training, he replied: “Yes I’ve been over the park a few times training on my own”.

Kanu nets Pompey's winner in the FA Cup final against Cardiff.

Kanu nets Pompey's winner in the FA Cup final against Cardiff.

‘He came down on the Monday night and on the Tuesday I met him at the training ground with his agent. It was ideal, we had a reserve game against Cardiff and I wanted to see him before Saturday’s opener against Blackburn.

‘I thought I’d get him to do a medical, ask him to play in that game and then, if he was no good, fail him on the medical, making out he had a dodgy knee or something.

‘Well, on the training pitch that day against Cardiff, Kanu would score two of the best goals I have seen in my life, improbable goals. If you could see them on TV they would blow your brains.

‘For the first, he flicked it over someone’s head and sent a dipping volley from 30 yards into the top corner. The second saw him walk around everybody, including the goalie, to score. We took him.

‘Blackburn visited Fratton Park and Toddy came off after 59 minutes. Kanu replaced him, netted twice and then missed a penalty for his hat-trick.

‘A week or so later we went to Middlesbrough and won 4-0/ Kanu scored twice, but on the way back he seized up at the airport so we had to put him in a wheelchair and wheel him out.

‘The thing was, a few years later, he was still playing, murdering AC Milan and all these teams. He was incredible.’

Kanu would spend six seasons at Pompey, making 168 appearances and scoring 28 times.

He would also be remembered as the 2008 FA Cup final match-winner.

Redknapp added: ‘He used to ring me up on Sunday nights. “Hello gaffer, it’s the King”. It would be 11.30pm.

‘He’d say “It’s the King, I have the upset tummy I can’t come training tomorrow”. So I would tell him to come in on Tuesday.

‘It happened so often, in the end I said “Don’t ring, just don’t come in on Mondays, see you Tuesdays”.

‘Such a gentle boy, never one minute’s problem, a great guy to work with.

‘That “Hello gaffer, it’s the King”, I could have had it as my phone ringtone!’