To date, Rashidi Yekini is Nigeria’s all-time scorer in the national team with 37 goals to his name in 62 appearances, and in his death, his remarkable record as Super Eagles’ hitman still stands.
We will do a thorough exposition in this piece, narrating the life and time of Nigeria’s most lethal striker in the round leather game.
Rashidi Yekini Profile
- Date of birth: 23 October 1963
- Place of birth: Kaduna, Nigeria
- Date of death: 4 May 2012 (aged 48)
- Place of death: Ibadan, Nigeria
- Height: 1.91 m (6 ft 3 in)
- Position: Forward
- 1981–1982: UNTL Kaduna – 30 Apps (12 Gls)
- 1982–1984: Shooting Stars – 53 Apps (45 Gls)
- 1984–1987: Abiola Babes – 100 Apps (80 Gls)
- 1987–1990: Africa Sports – 113 Apps (105 Gls)
- 1990–1994: Vitória Setúbal – 114 Apps (91 Gls)
- 1994–1995: Olympiacos – 4 Apps (2 Gls)
- 1995–1996: Sporting Gijón – 14 Apps (3 Gls)
- 1997: Vitória Setúbal – 14 Apps (3 Gls)
- 1997–1998: Zürich – 28 Apps (14 Gls)
- 1998–1999: Bizerte
- 1999: Al-Shabab
- 1999–2002: Africa Sports –130 Apps (112 Gls)
- 2002–2003: Julius Berger – 50 Apps (10 Gls)
- 2005: Gateway – 26 Apps (7 Gls)
Total: 673 Apps – (483 Gls)
1984–1998: Nigeria – 62 Apps (37 Gls)
Rashidi Yekini Biography
Rashidi Yekini was an embodiment of talent who honourably donned the green and white jersey of African Giants, and Super Eagles, for fourteen solid years.
Like most Nigerian footballers who have graced the national team, particularly in the 80s and 90s, Yekini was raised in Ira, a small town in Offa, Oyun local government area of Kwara state, Nigeria.
We should however note that he was born in Kaduna in 1963 into a Muslim family. His father was Alhaji Yekini while his mother was popularly known as Alhaja Sikiratu Yekini.
Yekini only had very little education but before his death, he spoke three foreign languages (English, Portuguese and French).
At a very young age, Yekini was already on the streets of Kaduna, trying to survive at every cost. He already came from a poor family and it couldn’t get any worse.
“I was sleeping in all kinds of places and had no idea about how I was going to survive. It was a very hard life and it made it hard to really put my trust in anyone.” Yekini said.
With the ‘trust nobody’ mindset, the young Rashidi somehow trusted one man he came across, popularly known as “Baba Jibrin”. It was the meeting with this man that turned things around for Yekini.
Baba Jibrin guided Yekini through an enviable career in football.
Through his influence, Baba Jibrin facilitated Yekini’s move to his first club side in Nigerian football, UNTL Kaduna – a move that earmarked a gradual shift from the pauper-like lifestyle Yekini and his family was always used to.
Yekini would then go on to play for thirteen other club sides before he retired. Shooting Stars and Abiola Babes were the clubs he played for locally between 1982 and 1987.
Yekini left the shores of the country in 1987 for Abidjan-based Africa Sports where he netted 105 goals in 113 outings in three years.
From Africa Sports National, he went to Portugal and Vitória de Setúbal where he experienced his most memorable years, eventually becoming the Primeira Liga’s top scorer in the 1993–94 season after scoring 21 goals.
Meanwhile, he had in the previous campaign, netted a career-best of 34 goals in 32 games to help the Sadinos promote from the second division, and those performances earned him the title of African Footballer of the Year once, the first Nigerian to win the gong.
In the summer of 1994, Yekini signed for Greek club Olympiacos, but did not get along with his teammates and left soon after.
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 with FC Zürich, Club Athlétique Bizertin and Al-Shabab Riyadh, before rejoining Africa Sports. In 2003, aged 39, he returned to the Nigerian championship with Julius Berger FC.
In April 2005, 41-year-old Yekini made a short comeback, moving alongside former national teammate Mobi Oparaku to Gateway United FC.
Yekini is the national record goalscorer, scoring 37 goals for Nigeria in 62 matches.
He was part of the 1994 Super Eagles team (where he netted Nigeria’s first-ever goal in a World Cup, in a 3–0 win against Bulgaria, his celebration after scoring, crying while holding the goal’s net, became one of the iconic images of the tournament), as well as the 1998 FIFA World Cup.
Additionally, Yekini helped the Super Eagles win the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations in Tunisia where he also topped the goal charts and was named best player of the competition.
He also participated at the Olympic level in Seoul in 1988.
Family, Wives and Life of Yekini
As we have earlier said, Yekini was devoted to his religion during his lifetime; and because the religion allows marrying as many wives as possible, the Nigerian football legend married three wives in his days.
However, Yekini never lived with either of his friends, wives or children, and the situation was exacerbated when he retired from the game as he preferred staying more in Ibadan alone rather than staying with his family.
The situation remained this way until his final moments on earth in 2012.
Meanwhile, his first wife, Kemi with whom he has a beautiful daughter (Rashidat Yemisi Yekini) is currently based in the UK. His two other wives, Bilikisu and Adeola are based in Ivory Coast (Abidjan) and Nigeria (Osogbo) respectively.
Albeit the two other wives gave Rashidi Yekini two daughters namely, Damilola and Omoyemi.
But his first child, Rashidat Yemisi Yekini, happens to be the most popular among his three daughters due to her consistent social media presence.
Yekini has just two houses, one of the houses is a twin ﬁve-room duplex with a boys’ quarter of two rooms and two garages located in the Oni and sons area in Ibadan.
The other house is a two-story building with four three-bedroom ﬂats and a boys’ quarter located at Ijagbo in Kwara state, a house he built for his mother which she still lives in to date.
Mother and Siblings
Rashidi Yekini is survived by his mother Alhaja Sikiratu Yekini, and three siblings; Akeem Yekini, Ismaila Yekini, and sister Roﬁat Yekini.
His aged mother reportedly lives in Ijagbo, which is in the Oyun local government area of Kwara State.
His sister, Roﬁat Yekini, died in 2014 in an auto crash as the 18-seater vehicle she boarded while returning from a business trip collided with a lorry along Okuku Osogbo road.
The brother Akeem Yekini died in 2018 after he complained of body pain and malaria. Ismaila Yekini is the only surviving sibling of the late Rashidi Yekini, who lives in Kaduna.
Rashidi Yekini maintained a stance of modesty and as such, he owned just two cars; one was the famous Peugeot 504 while the other was a Mercedes Benz 200.
Interestingly, the price of Rashidi Yekini’s first car (Peugeot 504) at that time was less than ₦6,000 and it was said that he never spent up to ₦250,000 to buy the Mercedes Benz 200.
Sadly, the latter days of Yekini were quite unfortunate as he completely isolated himself from his family and friends after losing everything.
He became so detached from society and as such, had no friends except his lawyer and one Ibraheem.
According to his lawyer, Olanrewaju, in an interview with Top Radio in Lagos, Rashidi was said to have told him (his lawyer), to ensure that his family never took him anywhere during his illness.
Olanrewaju claimed that Yekini had told him how his family had unsuccessfully tried to kill him on several occasions.
The lawyer further noted that days before his death, an extremely ill Yekini was forcefully taken by his brother Akeem and sister Roﬁat to a herbalist in the Apete area of Ibadan.
He was reportedly touched with a charm on the head before the herbalist locked him with chains in his herbal home.
It didn’t take long before after that incident when Rofiat told him that the striker was dead.
Meanwhile, one of his neighbours who didn’t want his name mentioned claimed that Rashidi Yekini’s problems started after a failed business deal with a partner (Ibraheem) who owned a Bureau De change business in the Sabo area of Ibadan.
Rashidi lost virtually everything, and liquidated all of his investments, converting them to cash which he gave his close confidant Ibraheem.
Unfortunately, Ibraheem was waylaid by armed robbers and the junk of the cash Ibraheem was killed for was owned by Rashidi Yekini.
Afterwards, Yekini lost virtually everything and the situation forced Yekini a lot deeper into his world of isolation, and gradually into extreme depression.
His struggle with depression got worse with time resulting in him gradually losing his mind.
He lived alone until the 4th of May 2012 when he gave up the ghost and was buried the next day, the 5th of May, 2012 according to Islamic rites.
This article was updated 1 month ago