The first thing that pops into mind at the mention of Rashidi Yekini is his skilled goal at the 1994 FIFA World Cup in a 3-0 win against Bulgaria. It was the country’s first goal and ultimate win at FIFA. His ecstatic display of victory by holding the net in tears became an iconic display of passion and patriotism.
Rashidi Yekini was born in Kaduna, north of Nigeria on October 23rd in 1963. He started his professional football career as a striker with the Nigerian league and maintained this position while playing for international clubs. He first left Nigeria to play in Cote d’Ivoire for Africa Sports National then travelled to Portugal to play for the Vitória de Setúbal, where he emerged the Primeira Liga’s top scorer in the 1993–1994 season. He scored 34 goals in 32 games for the Sadinos and 34 goals in 32 games for the Vitória de Setúbal which promoted the team to second division and earned him the title as the African Footballer of the Year in 1993.
Though he gained international achievement, he was still a patriotic Nigerian and represented Nigeria in five major tournaments including the World Cups. He played for Nigeria’s Super Eagles for 14 years and still holds historical achievements including the record for scoring 37 goals.
At the Africa Cup of Nations he scored 5 goals during the competition leading the team to victory that year and earning him the best player award. His dominant skills were noticed at the 1994 FIFA World Cup which led to his subsequent recruitment by Olympiacos FC. Unfortunately, lack of amicable relationship with his teammates led him to leave the team after a short while. His career never flourished after that. He returned to Portugal but was unsuccessful at returning to his former club, Vitória de Setúbal. He eventually played for FC Zürich, Club Athlétique Bizertin and Al-Shabab Riyadh, but was still unsuccessful at securing an international career. In 2003, Rashidi Yekini came back to Africa Sports at the age of 39 to play with Julius Berger FC and two years later at the age of 41, moved to play with Gateway United FC.
For more than twenty years of his professional career, he played mostly with Vitória de Setúbal in Portugal and in other countries namely Spain, Greece, Portugal and Switzerland. Rashidi was said to have suffered a failing health, bipolar disorder, depression and an undisclosed psychiatric condition. He subsequently died on May 4th 2012 in Ibadan, at the young age of 48. He was buried at his residence in Ira, Kwara State.
Rashidi Yekini represented true patriotism for Nigeria playing with a fierceness that burns with unyielding love and passion for the game. He will always be remembered as a household name for displaying his unforgettable skills at the 1994 FIFA World Cup.
- “Rashidi Yekini” – Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Modified June 2 2016. Web. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rashidi_Yekini