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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Nigerians, Milan Lose Hero Kanu

MILAN, Italy -- Nwankwo Kanu, Inter Milan's newly signed Nigerian forward, is suffering from a severe heart problem that will likely end his playing career, the Italian club said Tuesday.


Club doctors said the 20-year-old player, who helped Nigeria to win the Olympic gold medal in Atlanta, had a weak aortic valve.


"This means that in the future this valve must be replaced, through surgery. The [procedure] is not extremely serious, but is such to prevent Kanu from playing soccer," said Dr. Bruno Caru, a heart specialist who was in the medical staff that examined Kanu following his transfer from Ajax Amsterdam. Players must undergo fitness tests when moving.


In a communique, Inter confirmed Kanu's heart problems and emphasized "everything will be done to safeguard the health of the player."


The discovery of Kanu's ailment was expected to touch off a legal case between Inter and Ajax about the validity of his transfer.


Ajax got about $2 million from Inter for Kanu, who signed a three-year contract with the Milan club granting him about $800,000 a season.


Kanu, who recently played portions of games with Inter in preparation for the Italian first division campaign, was en route from the Netherlands for consultations with Inter doctors and officials, club sources reported.


The Nigerian, considered one of the most talented African forwards on the international scene, was among six non-Italians signed by Inter for this season.


He was expected to help lead Inter's attack.