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Monday, April 15, 2024

Rashidi Yekini laid to rest



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Nigeria’s all time highest goal scorer; Rashidi Yekini was on Saturday, buried in his home town of Irra, in Offa, Kwara state amidst cries and eulogies.

Hundreds of well-wishers gathered at the family’s compound, the site of his burial to pay their last respect to the striker who scored Nigeria’s first goal at the World Cup in USA 94, in a match against Bulgaria.

Prior to his internment, the 1993 African footballer of the year, wrapped in a white cloth, had a football placed by his head-famed for being a major threat to goal keepers with headings-at a tearful lying in state.

Leading the burial rites and prayers, the Chief Imam of Irra, Alhaji Shehu Tijani, noted that death is the end of everyone.

Yekini died in a private hospital in Ibadan, late Friday night aged 48. He was said to have suffered from bipolar disorder, depression and some other neuro-related ailments without receiving adequate medical attention due to financial troubles.

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One of his widows, Adeola, and his daughter, Yemi, led the mourners at the burial weeping profusely as they observed the dust rites.

Former teammates, Ajibade Babalade, Mutiu Adepoju and Ike Shorunmu were also present and could not also hold back their tears.

Also present at the burial was the Kwara State Commissioner for Information and Communication, Prince Tunji Moronfoye, who pledged that government would do something to assist the deceased’s family. He announced a donation of N1.5million to support his family.

Others were representatives of Osun State Governor, Mr Rauf Aregbesola, Commissioner for Sports, Mr Stephen Kola Balogun who said the news of his death was received with shock.

The Osun state government donated N1 million as endowment fund for the soccer legend to cater for the family and children.

Born in Kaduna state, Yekini started his professional footballing career in the Nigerian league, before moving to Côte d’Ivoire to play for Africa Sports National.

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He played for the Portuguese side, Vitoria de Setubal where he became the Portuguese first division’s top scorer 1993–94, with 34 goals in 32 matches. He was the first Nigerian to be crowned the African Footballer of the Year in 1993.

In 1994, he left for Greek side, Olympiacos FC, and after a brief stay, left for Sporting de Gijón of Spain. His career continued at FC Zürich, Club Athlétique Bizertin and Al-Shabab Riyadh, before returning to Africa to play for Julius Berger FC at 39 after retiring from international football.

As a member of the national team, Yekini had a remarkable career with 37 goals in 58 appearances, a record yet to be broken.

He is reportedly survived by three wives, three children and his aged mother.

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