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Yekini Rashidi, Super Eagles of Nigeria FIRST-EVER World Cup goal scorer and the FIRST Nigerian player to win the African Player of the Year award

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The late Yekini, born in Oct 23, 1963 still keeps the honour as Nigeria’s most dreaded striker in the history of the senior national football team-the Super Eagles. Yekini was one of the Nigeria national players who had a breakthrough in the early 90s, making him one of the torchbearers in the golden age of the Nigeria national team. 

Yekini represented the nation in seven major tournaments, 5 Afcon (1984, 1988, 1990, 1992, 1994) and 2 World Cups (1994, 1998) where he scored the country’s first-ever goal in the competition in USA 1994 against Bulgaria, famously celebrating with his clenched fists punched through the net in exultation, which became an iconic image of both the tournament and of the man.

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The late Super Eagles striker was the first Nigerian player to win the African Player of the Year award following his explosive goal-scoring form for his country and club in 1993. Yekini scored crucial goals for Nigeria during the World Cup and Nations Cup qualifiers which helped him to win the CAF Award. 

Yekini was also prolific at club level – seeing huge success with Nigeria clubs like UNTL Kaduna, Shooting Stars, Abiola Babes, Julius Berger, Gateway, Ivory Coast’s Africa Sport and Vitoria Setubal of Portugal, Olympiakos in Greece, Sporting Gijon in Spain and FC Zurich in Switzerland. At the club level, Yekini netted a total of 483 goals in 673 games.

He helped Shooting Stars reach the final of the African Champions Cup (forerunner of the African Champions League) in 1984 and made his debut for Nigeria the same year. His final international outings came at the 1998 World Cup.

Between 1984-1998, Yekini played 62 games for the Super Eagles of Nigeria, scoring 37 goals. And since his death, no player has been able to break the record of Yekini in the national team. Still the third on the list of Nations Cup scorers, with his tally of 13 strikes at the finals only bettered by Cameroonian Samuel Eto’o (18) and Ivory Coast’s Laurent Pokou (14).

Yekini lived a reclusive life after he quit football for good in 2005 following a spell back in the Nigerian league. After retiring in 2005, Yekini lived a quiet and simple life alone in his mansion at Ring road in Ibadan, Ọ̀yọ́ State and away from his family. He liked to stay away from the public eye and didn’t socialise a great deal. There have been suggestions that he suffered from depression brought about by a number of factors. This includes him losing his life savings in a failed investment.

He aggressively shunned the media limelight and turned down several offers to be part of the country’s football in other capacities, rejecting the chance to be a Nigerian football ambassador to the 2010 World Cup – a move which was never explained. 

Yekini Rashidi died on May 4 in 2012 at the age of 48. Being a Muslim, Yekini was buried immediately in Ira Offa, his hometown in Kwara State

Rashidi Yekini married three wives as a Muslim.

The wives were Kemi, Adeola, and Bilikisu, and each of them bore him a daughter named Yemisi, Omoyemi, and Damilola.

His first wife Kemi lives with her daughter Yemisi in London, while the second wife Adeola, who had divorced him and spoke at his burial, lived in Osogbo with her daughter Omoyemi. Rashidi met his third wife Bilikisu in Abidjan Cote d’Ivoire and she still resides there with her daughter Damilola.

The late football legend Rashidi Yekini was  conferred posthumously as MON (Member of the Order of the Niger by President Muhammadu Buhari on the 4th of October, 2022. 

1X AFRICA CUP WINNER 

1994 –  Nigeria

1X AFRICAN FOOTBALLER OF THE YEAR

1993

5X TOP GOAL SCORER

93/94  – Liga Portugal  Primeira Divisão – (21 Goals) 

93/94  – Africa Cup of Nations Africa Cup of Nations – (5 Goals) 

92/93  – Liga Portugal 2 Liga Portugal 2 – (34 Goals) 

91/92 –  Liga Portugal 2 Liga Portugal 2 – (22 Goals) 

91/92 –  Africa Cup of Nations Africa Cup of Nations – (4 Goals) 

REFERENCES 

Goalballlives

The best of Africa

Sportsbrief

Wikipedia

Transsfer Market

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