Nwankwo Kanu
Kanu first underwent corrective heart surgery in 1997.Reuters

He is best known as a football cult hero but it looks like Nwankwo Kanu is taking his career in a new direction.

The former Arsenal striker has opened his own modelling agency in his native Nigeria.

The business called Papilo Modelling Agency is based in Ikeju, Lagos and will be holding auditions for fresh talent later this month.

Aside from the agency, Kanu is also busy with his recently launched Papilo Studios, which does everything from photo shoots, book albums, and video production. They also have an in-house music studio.

In promotional images, released online, Kanu is seen posing beside the machines in his studio wearing an all grey ensemble.

Kanu's surprise career move comes months after he underwent his second corrective heart surgery. He was first diagnosed with a congenital heart defect in August 1996 while playing for Inter Milan.

In March 2014, the 38-year-old star and founder of the Kanu Heart Foundation, went under the knife at the Cleveland Hospital Ohio following a routine medical check.

"We give thanks to God that everything went well and he's in perfect condition," his younger brother Ogbonna told BBC Sport at the time. "The decision to operate on him was reached during his annual medical check-up.

"The family would like to say a big 'thank you' to Nigerians and Nwankwo Kanu's fans across the world for their prayers and best wishes."

Kanu's international success includes a Fifa under-17 World Cup title in 1993 and the 1996 Olympic football gold medal. He announced his retirement from international football at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.