African soccer legend Rashidi Yekini dead
Africa was on Friday left stunned by news of the death of former national team striker Rashidi Yekini. The 48-year-old passed away at his family home in Ira, Kwara State after months of illness. He was taken for treatment to the United Kingdom, but was brought back early in the week where he passed, throwing the continent into mourning.
Former players, administrators, media and fans were left in shock as news of the legendary striker’s passing spread. Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi, captain of that team that Yekini played in, symbolized the nationwide anguish as he was left speechless with grief.
“I can’t talk now. I can’t talk now. Maybe later we can talk, but not now,” Keshi said in a broken voice.
Fans besieged radio call-ins, social networking sites and Blackberry Messenger service with grief-stricken messages.
Yekini made his first international appearance for Nigeria in a 2-1 win over Ghana at the 1984 African Nations Cup and went on to appear a total of 58 times over a 14-year international career, scoring 37 goals to put him top of the all-time Eagles scorers’ list.
During his most prolific spell for Nigeria, he rattled in a remarkable 31 goals in 30 games between March 1990 and June 1994.
The first of those goals came in 1-0 win over Egypt at the African Nations Cup in Algeria, and the last was that emblematic opening strike against Bulgaria.
In July 1993, Yekini was part of the Nigeria team that was held 0-0 by Uganda Cranes at Nakivubo stadium. He was marked out of the game by defender Robert Mukiibi.
cap: Yekini’s goal celebration in the net after scoring against Bulgaria at US ‘94 entered African soccer folklore. The striker was Africa’s Footballer of the Year in 1993.
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