Rashidi yekini Dies: How Nigeria Failed A Hero!
This is one of the most shocking and saddest news that I have received in a very long time. Rashidi Yekini, Nigeria’s best ever and only true striker, my ex colleague and God bless him, our match winner, is dead at the tender age of 48!
The cause of death is not specifically known, other than that he was reportedly sick for a while before passing away in a Hospital yesterday night. He is rumored to have suffered mental illness for the past two years. Some said he had been walking the streets of Ibadan barefooted, and suffered delusions at times!
When my Friend, Dosu Joseph, broke the news to me yesterday night I hoped I was having a nightmare and that I was going to wake up. Unfortunately it was not a nightmare but true!
Rashidi Yekini is definitely one of the best African players and legends to ever walk this earth, he (almost) single highhandedly qualified Nigeria to its first ever World cup, 1994 in America.
He scored all the decisive goals short of one in Algeria, when Finidi George helped us qualify. He eventually & Rightfully went down into the history books for having scored Nigeria’s first ever world cup goal. He was our marksman in 1994 as Nigeria’s Super Eagles won the 1994 Nation’s Cup in Tunisia. In 1993 he was Nigeria’s ever first Voted African player of the year. An award he won twice
He averaged a goal per two games he played for Nigeria, and having played with him for years and other Nigerian Strikers, I can confirm that he was a mile away, the best and only Pure striker we ever had, till date!
Co-Incidentally our free flowing attack weakened once he stopped playing for the National Team!
At the club side level he was notably very prolific at Portugal’s Victoria Setubal, where he won on several occasions the highest goalscorer award! he averaged a goal per match for Setubal!
Sadly this is one more national hero our Nigerian system has let down badly! It is a shame that this great player’s last game in Nigeria in a world cup qualifier ended with boos from fans due to the fact that they were wrongly ill informed by a small group of detractors who felt Nigeria’s fortunes In USA ’94 were due to his form or lack of it.
Yekini felt betrayed and this haunted him till his death! How could one give so much and receive so little in return from your own kind?
No wonder he became a recluse and kept to himself in his latter days. In 1998 in the France world Cup, he started the attack action that led to our equalizer by Garba Lawal.
Rashidi was full of pace, had a superb shot (ask the Gabon goalkeeper in our opener in the 1994 African nations amongst others) could jump very high and instead of heading the ball would chest it down to eventually crucify the goalkeeper, he was calm in front of goal and was a very loveable person once you got to know and understand him!
I am ashamed amongst others to see how this asset to our nation was treated and honored by our football federation and our Government at that. When you see how a legend like this was ignored time and time over by our federation, lack of recognition to add value to his self esteem and at the same time show to the upcoming youths the benefits of serving and performing for your country, thereby encouraging them to want to do their part, you will understand why the generation of today neglect and sometimes blatantly refuse to wear the colors of our National teams.
We lost not only a brother, friend ,human being ,legend and compatriot,but we also lost a great opportunity to find out his unique secret of how to score goals easily like he did which only he knew how to. This and more he has taken with him to heaven. What a monumental loss.
On a personal note I shed tears last night because I never got a chance to say thank you to Rashidi Yekini! Some will say why? After all you helped make him by your passes etc? It is actually the contrary. If Rashidi Yekini had not converted the passes I gave him into goals I probably would not have gained recognition as much as I did thanks to him.
One particular Rashidi Yekini Goal I will always remember: It was our quarter final match in Tunisia’s hosted 1994 nations cup vs. Zaire (now Democratic republic of Congo) I stole the ball from a Zairian on the flanks and immediately threw Yekini the pass at the waist level, instead of controlling it with his knee, in order not to lose the forward running momentum, he took it with the exterior part of his right foot further in the air and almost simultaneously struck it with that same exterior part of the right foot into the roof of the net. The Goalkeeper and the Zaire defense stood no chance and Yekini once again won us the match and shot us into the semi finals!
Almost 20 years after this major conquest,Yekini is yet to receive the house the Nigerian government promised him.In other words he died not being rewarded for his efforts to make Nigeria great!
Rashidi, on behalf of all my family and well meaning Millions of Nigerians and Africans, We wish you a safe journey into God’s paradise and may your beautiful soul rest in peace! We will always love you!