Yekini: Super Eagles mates mourn


Teammates of former Super Eagles star Rashidi
Yekini, Mutiu Adepoju and Taribo West could not hold back tears while reacting to his death on Friday evening.
Yekini, who died at the age of 49, was born in Kaduna on October 23, 1963.
Adepoju, who broke down on phone said: “I’m too pained to react on this sad loss to Nigeria. Oh! What a loss! Yekini? No no no”
Taribo, who was a close associate of the former CAF Player of the year, was short of words while speaking on Yekini’s death: “I wish I know what to say…hmnn (weeping) it’s sad, really sad…that I have to hear that Yeking is no more…oh…”
Yekini started his professional career in the Nigerian league before moving to Côte d’Ivoire to play for Africa Sports National.
From there he went to Portugal and Vitória de Setúbal, where he experienced his most memorable years, eventually becoming the Portuguese first division’s top scorer, in 1993–94 season.His performances (32 matches, 34 goals) earned him the title of African Footballer of the Year in 1993, the first ever from a Nigerian.
In the 1994 summer, Yekini was bought by Olympiacos FC, but did not get along with teammates and left. His career never really got back on track, not even upon a return to Setúbal, which happened after another unassuming spell, in La Liga with Sporting de Gijón.
He successively played for FC Zürich, Club Athlétique Bizertin and Al-Shabab Riyadh, before rejoining Africa Sports. In 2003, at 39, he returned to the Nigerian championship with Julius Berger FC.
In 2005, 41-year old Yekini made a short comeback, moving alongside former national teammate Mobi Oparaku to Gateway FC. Fondly known for his scoring prowess, he scored a total of 37 goals for the Super Eagles in 58 appearances to rank as Nigeria’s highest goal scorer of all-time. He was part of the team that participated in the 1994 FIFA World Cup (where he scored Nigeria’s first-ever goal in a World Cup, in a 3–0 win against Bulgaria) and the 1998 World Cup.
Additionally, Yekini also helped the Super Eagles win the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations, where he also topped the goal charts, and participated at Olympic level, in Seoul 1988.
The remains of the late footballer will be committed to mother earth on Saturday, 5 April, 2012, according to Muslim rites in his hometown, Ira, Offa area of Ilorin, Kwara State.

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Tunde Oyedele