By Oyinlola Awonuga (The New Diplomat’s Entertainment, Fashion and Sports Desk)
Football governing body FIFA, the Nigeria Football Federation and former Super Eagles star Mutiu Adepoju, have paid glowing tributes to late Rashidi Yekini on the eight year anniversary of his death.
Recall that Yekini passed away on May 4th, 2012 at the age of 48 in Ibadan, Oyo State. Remembering the late Yekini, FIFA unveiled a video of the former Shooting Stars striker’s goal against Bulgaria at the 1994 World Cup in the United States. It was Nigeria’s first ever World Cup goal with the Eagles proceeding on to win 3-0.
“Rasheed Yekini produced one of the most iconic celebrations in #WorldCup history after scoring the @NGSuperEagles’ first-ever goal in the competition. Africa sadly lost of its greatest-ever players #OnThisDay in 2012, but his legend will live on eternally,” FIFA wrote on their verified Twitter handle.
The NFF on its part wrote:“Today we remember one of the World’s most feared strikers of his time, Rashidi Yekini who passed on to glory on this day in 2012. May his soul continue to Rest In Peace.”
Similarly, Adepoju, recalled his fond memories of Yekini and his influence in the Super Eagles.
He said: “In loving memory of Rasheed Yekini,” Adepoju wrote on his handle.
“Today is the remembrance of this great man. His greatness is so huge that we still reminisce over his exploits in the beautiful game. Dear mate, I feel honoured playing with you in Nigeria colours and that was a big achievement on its own. You gave your 100% always. Whenever we seem down and defeated, you always conjure your magic wand and get us out of trouble with your goals.
“It was never a dull moment with you in camp as everyone’s ribs would be cracked at your jokes. You were never a contentious person and you saw everyone as your brother not minding their backgrounds. I will never forget you, Nigerians will never forget you. Always in our hearts. Rest in peace king Rasheed Yekini. You were created to score goals and your class remains unmatched!” Adepoju said.
Born in Kaduna, of Yoruba origin, after starting his professional career in the Nigerian league , Yekini moved to Côte d’Ivoire to play for Africa Sports National.
From there he went to Portugal and joined Vitória de Setúbal where he experienced his most memorable years, eventually becoming the Primeira Liga’s top scorer in the 1993–94 season after scoring 21 goals.
Other clubs he played for include Sporting Gijon, Olympiakos, FC Zurich, Abiola Babes, Julius Berger, and Gateway.He made his debut in senior national team in 1984, scoring 37 goals in 58 appearances before retiring from international football after the 1998 World Cup in France.
It would be recalled that the late Yekini still remains Super Eagles’ highest goal scorer.He was highest goal scorer at the Senegal 1992 and Tunisia 1994 AFCONs, netting four and five goals, respectively.
He helped Nigeria win the 1994 AFCON and featured at the 1994 and 1998 FIFA World Cups respectively. Also, he was a member of the Eagles team to the 1988 Seoul Olympics.