Nigeria’s most lethal striker, Rashidi Yekini
I woke up on the 4th of May 2012 determined to execute my preplanned daily activities, my uncle had already performed our morning ritual of switching on the radio and the dial was tuned to Brila fm.
As usual, my listening sense was alert and ready to receive the top sports stories across the world and then boom! the host, Babatunde Raji (i think) announced the death of Nigeria’s all time highest goalscorer gangling Rashidi Yekini.
The name rang a bell in my head, but i didn’t know too much about him as i hadn’t seen him play and owning a smart phone was not all that easy for a JSS 3 student back then.
I was keen on knowing more about him, i dug into every archive i could find including asking people around me who saw him play.
The entire programming of Brila Fm and most sports news platform in Nigeria that day was about him. Tributes came in from ex players, current players, clubs, administrators, managers and fans.
I sampled all of their thoughts about Yekini in a bid to form my own opinion about him.
My curiosity wouldn’t let me be, i prepared an oral questionnaire for my uncles and everyone i thought should know about Yekini.
The questionnaire contained only one question, how good was Rashidi Yekini? Every answer i got was preceded by an exclamation (Haa!!!), with each person trying as much as possible to paint a picture of a ferocious striker with their words.
Still not satisfied, i proceeded to read everything i could find about him.
A few days later, i had access to the internet, headed straight to YouTube and typed in the keyword ‘Rashidi Yekini’.
After a few seconds, videos of his highlights littered my screen, i was particularly interested in his goal at the 1994 FIFA World cup against Bulgaria as it was Nigeria’s first ever World cup goal.
A typical striker’s tap-in, but his iconic celebration gripped my attention, it gave me goosebumps all over my body.
Rashidi Yekini scored 37 goals in 58 international games, an average of 0.6 goals per game for Nigeria.
That record is still unmatched by any player that have donned the green and white jersey so far.
A few minutes of streaming his highlights on YouTube was all it required to erase the remaining small portion of doubt i had about him.
By the time i watched his spectacular hat-trick against Real Madrid and his celebration after the third goal, i was overwhelmed with emotions.
The Ibadan man ended his career with 164 goals in 253 games (in all competitions) and is unarguably Nigeria’s most lethal striker.
Prior to writing this article, I watched the goal and iconic celebration from the match against Bulgaria at the 1994 World cup again, and it gave me the same chills as the first time i saw it.
He certainly deserves more recognition than he gets right now, let’s hope the Nigeria Football Federation will do more to immortalise him.