Rashidi Yekini celebrating Nigeria's first goal at USA 1994 FIFA World Cup

By Oyediji Oluwaseun Babatunde
Sports Writer, kick442.com Nigeria

On May 4, 2012, Super Eagles’ all-time leading goal scorer, Rashidi Yekini mysteriously died. Eight years after his death, little or nothing has been done in order to immortalize Nigeria’s best net burster.

Yekini featured for the likes of UNTL Kaduna, Shooting Stars, Abiola Babes, Africa Sports, Vitória Setúbal, Olympiacos, Sporting Gijón, Zürich, Bizerte, Al-Shabab, Julius Berger and Gateway United before his retirement from football around 2005.

For Super Eagles of Nigeria, Rashidi Yekini was part of Nigeria’s side that won the 1994 African Cup of Nations, AFCON where he emerged as African Footballer of the Year. He was also part of the team to the USA 1994 and France 1998 FIFA World Cup. He remains Nigeria’s highest goal scorer with 37 goals in 58 matches.

Jubril Mohamed, Yekini’s lawyer on a monitored radio interview on Top Radio, Lagos, said that Yekini was an introvert during his lifetime but that doesn’t mean that he is not fun to be with. The lawyer categorically stated that he has friends like Mutiu Adepoju and Tijani Babangida in the national team. He said that whenever Mutiu Adepoju came back from Spain, he normally spend up to two weeks at Yekini’s residence.

The lawyer also refuted claims by a Sports Writer with Tribune Newspaper who reported that Yekini was having mental health issues before his death. He said that the reporter wrote the story as a result of Yekini’s refusal to grant him an interview and his somewhat funny behaviour while on the call with him. The lawyer said that Yekini’s normal behaviour is quite different from other human beings as he is a humble and kind person.

Yekini was reported to be ill for an extended period of time. In 2011, news media in Nigeria begun issuing reports of his failing health, and he was said to suffer from bipolar disorder, depression, and some other undisclosed psychiatric condition. He died in Ibadan on 4 May 2012 at the age of 48, the news being confirmed by former national teammates Mutiu Adepoju and Ike Shorunmu; he was buried at his residence in Ira, Kwara State. He was survived by his aged mother, brother, wives, and children, among others.

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It is hoped that Nigeria Government and Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, will do the needful by immortalizing this Nigerian hero, eight years after his death, just like a line of Nigeria national anthem states that, the labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain. Hopefully, the labour of Rashidi Yekini for Nigeria won’t be in vain.

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