Following his exceptional performance for Nigeria during his playing days, Doodle celebrates iconic Nigerian footballer Rashidi Yekini on his posthumous 60th birthday.
Yekini is a tall and energetic player with speed and accuracy for his ability to sneak shots by the keeper. On this day in 1963, was born in Kaduna, Nigeria and began his professional football career with the Nigerian club UNTL Kaduna in 1981.
The late striker was named the 1993 African Player of The Year and was the top scorer with eight goals as Nigeria qualified for the World Cup for the first time in 1994, where he scored Nigeria’s first-ever goal in a World Cup, in a 3–0 win against Bulgaria in the United States.
The legendary Yekini died on May 4, 2012, at the age of 48 and remains Nigeria’s all-time record goal poacher, scoring 37 goals in 58 international appearances for Nigeria between 1994 and 1998 before retiring from international duty in 2002.
Yekini’s performance for the Nigerian national football team, the Super Eagles, was nothing short of exceptional as is widely considered one of Nigeria’s greatest footballers and one of Africa’s most prolific strikers.
He scored Nigeria’s first-ever goal in a World Cup tournament during the Super Eagles opening match against Bulgaria. His goal celebration, where he held the net and screamed joyfully, is an iconic moment in Nigerian football history and finished the tournament as the competition’s top scorer.
Yekini also successfully ran in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON). He represented Nigeria in several tournament editions and was a key figure in Nigeria’s AFCON victory in 1994.
Former Super Eagles captain and coach Sunday Oliseh, who played along with Yekini during their days in the national team, stated that the former Sporting Gijón striker remains the best Nigeria has ever produced.
Speaking during a podcast session on the YouTube channel ATHLST hosted by Matthew Edafe, Oliseh said:
“He made the art of assist so easy. Because he makes very, very good runs, very smart runs – because he was ahead of his time,” the former Nigerian midfielder said.
“Most people don’t know about it, but Rashidi doesn’t enter too much into the offside position, because of his pre-running.
“Strikers run like this, Yekini runs like this and I drop it there. He was already ahead of his time and his finishings are second to none.
“No other Nigerian striker can come close. He was one of the misunderstood superstars in our lifetime.”
The pair won the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations together in 1994 and then played at the FIFA World Cup the same year.
Yekini had a successful club career playing for several teams, including African Sporting Gijón in Spain, Vitória de Setúbal in Portugal, and Olympiacos in Greece.
While playing for Shooting Stars FC, he was the top scorer in the Nigerian domestic league for the 1993-1994 season.
Yekini’s performances and success inspired a generation of Nigerian footballers. He played a pivotal role in establishing Nigeria as a force to be reckoned with in African and world football.
Rashidi Yekini’s contributions to Nigerian football and extraordinary goalscoring ability make him a legendary figure in the history of Nigerian soccer. His name remains prominent in the history of Nigerian and African football.