Remembering Rashidi Yekini, Nigeria Greatest Football Striker
Nigeria News remembers late footballer, Rasidi Yekini who died seven years ago.
One of the devastating news I ever received was the death of Rasidi Yekini. He died on May 4, 2012 after wrestling with two men, one of whom happened to be his relative in his Ibadan residence.
They had hidden around the house waiting for the footballer who was returning from training at Liberty Stadium. Since he retired from active football in 2005, Yekini had lived a reclusive life.
Even in the camp of the national team and his clubs, it was gathered that Yekini lived an isolated life. However, he related with selected few, among whom were the former national, Segun Odegbami and a prolific sports journalist, Kayode Tijani.
Yekini wasthe best striker Nigeria ever had, scoring 34 goals and winning the Africanfootballer of the year. His goals took Nigeria to her first World Cup in 1994where he scored the first goal for the country against Bulgaria.
He becameone of the few international footballers that would end their careers in thelocal league. Yekini came back home to play for Shooting Stars and GatewayFootball Clubs before hanging the boots.
He played in these local clubs without taking wages. But during his time after football, this great footballer avoided all efforts to bring him back to the limelight.
He trained and spent time with a friend popularly known as Bayo whom he helped to set up a video shop within Ibadan. It was gathered that Yekini always retired to Bayo’s shop to see “Yoruba Movies” after his routine training at Liberty Stadium.
But on thefateful day, he was forcefully abducted by two men as he stepped out of hiscars to enter his house. They claimed that the footballer was insane and wouldneed rehabilitation but Yekini breathed his last in their hands as Nigeria losta sports hero.
In threedays, it will be seven years that the country lost this great football icon butthe lesson behind his life and death is still a misery.
Could it bebecause he lacked the formal education? Yekini had got the necessary exposure,having played in Africa and Europe. However, this was not enough becausefindings showed that the gangling striker lacked all social attributes thatcould make people to access him.
He hardlytalked nor socialized with other team mates. After training, he retired intohis room and only came out to play football. He could not express himself ingood English Language, which to me should not be a barrier to his interactionwith others.
But he hadbusinesses in Portugal where he dominated the league with his prolific goalsand made his money from there, even after his retirement. Chief Segun Odegbamisaid that Yekini’s businesses paid into his First Bank Account in Ibadan everymonth before he died.
KayodeTijani said that Yekini was more or less a philanthropist who gave money toless privileged people regularly, yet he lived a reclusive life.
Towards hisdemise, Odegbami disclosed that Yekini had some financial problems but was outof it within a short time. He said he lived his normal isolated life withoutdisturbing anybody and that he had arranged with a bank and South African firmon how to make Yekini a role model for youths.
But Nigerialost Yekini to men who knew nothing about his lifestyle due to their ignorance.