Nigeria: R.I.P. Rashidi Yekini – African Football Legend

Towards the end of last week, Africa lost one of its biggest scoring heroes in football – Rashidi Yekini. After playing for several clubs and representing Nigeria in both the Africa Cup of Nations and the World Cup, he retired into oblivion and unknown to the world he suffered mental illness to his death.

Optimum Sports, in a very detailed post titled “Rashidi Yekini 1963-2012″ said:

He scored Nigeria's first ever goal at the World Cup, against Bulgaria at USA '94, and led the way as they won the Africa Cup of Nations in the same year. “Yekini's fantastic skills and talent were evident to the world”Issa Hayatou – CAF President

Rashidi Yekini – Nigeria's soccer legend. Photo source

They went on to add:

He is Nigeria's top international scorer, with 37 goals from 58 games. He was also a prolific goal-scorer in club football – seeing huge success with Shooting Stars in Nigeria, Ivory Coast’ s Africa Sport and Vitoria Setubal in Portugal, amongst others

Naija-Things wrote a brief post dedicated to Nigeria’s scoring machine:

Another Naija Hero had just fallen on Friday 4th May, 2012. Rashidi Yekini eventually passed away after suffering from a mental illness for two years now

The North Bank Evening Standard from the Gambia also shared highlights of his career:

Yekini scored nearly 40 goals as a Nigerian international, and represented the nation in five major tournaments, including 2 World Cups, where he scored the country’s first-ever goal in the competition. He was also named the African Footballer of the Year once

YouTube video below: Rashidi Yekini scoring Nigeria's first ever goal at the World Cup:

Maxibeats compiled statements from former playing colleagues:

Super Eagle ex-goal keeper Ike Shorunmu also confirmed to Saturday Tribune saying ‘It’s so sad but the truth of the matter is that our dear Rashidi Yekini is dead, Shorunmu lamented. ‘He died in a private hospital in Ibadan. ‘The woman who had a daughter for Yekini told me this sad news and told me that he would be buried today in Ira, Kwara State’, said Shorunmu.

Gist Only wrote a rather controversial headline “Late Rashidi Yekini’s Wife blames the Media for his Death”:

A former wife of Rashidi Yekini, Adeola says the Late Super Eagles star would have lived longer if the media had left him in peace.The Osogbo-based mother of Yekini’s second daughter, Mariam says the media poked into his personal life all the time and abused his modesty”
The African football game has indeed lost of its most illustrious footballers. Nigeria which has lately been through rough times for its international games has lost a great role model who will forever live in our memories for his tenacious play on the pitch.

Tunde wrote about the “untold story of Rashidi Yekini's last days”:

Accounts from neighbours and associates paint a picture of a man who struggled with serious mental and delusional disorder after losing life savings to a bungled investment.

One neighbour spoke of his losing life savings to a sham investment, and another recalled seeing him frequently around women selling Bóle (roasted plantain); and on two occasions he answered nature’s call by a roadside in Ibadan where he lived away his final days.

Then, a former teammate conjectured how a disheartening jeering from fans during a crucial match that turned out his last international showing, haunted him to a bitter end.

Those who met Rashidi Yekini within the last one year say at least one of those episodes played a role in his unexpected death last week.

African football has indeed lost one of its most illustrious footballers. Nigeria, which has lately been through rough times from poor performance in international soccer, has lost a great role model who will forever live in our memories for his tenacious play on the pitch.

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