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Six years after the death of an icon, Nigeria still remembers Rashidi Yekini vividly for his great confidence and skill on the ball, which helped Nigeria gain world football recognition. The seasoned striker was one of the trailblazers that cleared the path for Africans to play International football with top European clubs. Yekini was no ordinary player, and the world knew this. On any playing field, the Nigerian would mount skillful displays that left the world aghast at the precision with which he handled the ball. The Super star was the bane of defenders, and goalkeepers loathed him; for he was a proud striker whose shot was typically too strong to bear — little wonder the Nigerian was able to score 37 goals in only 58 international appearances for the Super Eagles.
Rashidi Yekini in action for Nigeria.

Portuguese Top Scorer Award

Among the first set of Africans that made the transition to Europe, the Nigerian had quite a lot to prove — and trust Yekini to stun the world while doing this. Yekini was signed by Vitória Setubal, a mid-level Portuguese Primeira Liga side, where he played for four years (1990-1994). In 1993, Yekini joined the list of Africans (only three), to win the award for highest goals scored in the Portuguese league. With 21 goals scored in the 1993/1994 football season, Yekini was awarded the Bola de Prata trophy.

First Nigerian To Win The CAF African Footballer Of The Year Award

At a time when no Nigerian came close to picking the award, Yekini would cause a great upset in 1993, that made room for other Nigerians to win the CAF African footballer of the year award in the succeeding years. For his tremendous achievements while playing in Portugal, Yekini was named the 1993 CAF African footballer of the year. Another memorable moment in the career of the iconic player was when he scored Nigeria’s first ever goal at the 1994 FIFA World Cup.

Yekini Won AFCON 1994 Championships As Reigning African Player Of The Year

When I think about how much the 1994 Eagles put into their AFCON campaign, I feel very proud that Nigeria was once the nation to fear in African football. Yekini scored five goals to win the top scorer award, and led team Nigeria to African dominance after they beat Zambia 2-1 in the final.

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This article was first published on 10th October 2018


Achem Samuel is a writer and a musician, he is passionate about God and also an ardent fan of tech, sports and music.

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