It was the summer of 1994, in front of 44,000 at the cotton bowl stadium in Dallas, Texas, United States. A terrific pass from the right-wing by Finidi George was easily converted by Rashidi Yekini.
This will go down in history as the first goal ever scored by NIGERIA at the world cup. However, this was not only the accolade associated to Rashidi Yekini, but he would also to this day have the clear distinction of being the highest-scoring player for the national team the “Super Eagles” with 37 goals in 62 caps.
In addition to the historical relevance of his goal, Yekini would be remembered more on the global stage for his iconic goal celebration, grabbing the goal net with so much joy and passion.
With a football career that spanned over two decades, Yekini will go down as perhaps one of the best strikers to come out of the African continent. From winning the Nations Cup in 1994 to also being named the “African footballer of the Year 1993”, Rashidi Yekini went on to represent Nigeria at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, and also be present in 4 African Cup of Nations tournaments and 2 world cups.
A playing style that was a culmination of speed, power and elegance. Rashidi Yekini was a constant threat to defending teams. Sadly, ten years ago today, Nigeria was plunged into mourning, as the goal-king Rashidi Yekini succumbed to illness and passed on.
One important thing to note is that the legacy of Rashidi Yekini will never be forgotten.
Yekini in Quotes
“Rashidi was full of pace, had a superb shot, could jump very high, was calm in front of goal and was a very loveable person once you got to know and understand him.”
~Sunday Oliseh, former Nigeria team-mate
“Yekini was a great player – one of the greatest Nigerian attackers. It was a real privilege to play with him.”
~Finidi George, who provided the assist for that famous goal against Bulgaria
“Yekini was a man of himself – a man who knew what he wanted and what he wanted to do for his country. He was always ready to risk everything for the team and country.”
~Thompson Oliha, former Nigeria team-mate
“There was a time I learnt that my [club] coach was complaining in the press that I went too often to play for Nigeria and that it affected his plans. Do you know what I told him? I told him nobody, repeat nobody, can stop me from playing for my fatherland. This is where my people love me not only because I score goals, but because I am their son. Even if Nigeria has a fixture against ants and cockroaches and I am invited, I will go and play.”
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