By Uche Amunike
Eleven years after he passed on, the late Nigerian striker and top goal scorer of 37 goals, Rashidi Yekini, has been honored on his 60th posthumous birthday, not only by Google, but also his fans, nationwide.
The legendary late striker represented Nigeria in seven major soccer tournaments, including two World Cups where he scored Nigeria’s first ever goal in the competition in the United States in 1994, the Olympic Games and the African Cup of Nations.
Google celebrated him by creating a doodle of the man who scored Nigeria’s first ever World Cup goal in 1994, showing that moment when he grabbed the net and wept for joy. So many Nigerians also took to social media as they joined Google to celebrate him as he turned 60 posthumously.
On the official account of Google in Africa, they tweeted: ‘Today we are honoring the legacy of Rashidi Yekini on his 60th birthday with a special Doodle. Nigeria’s all-time top striker, his passion and iconic World Cup goal celebration left an indelible mark on the world of football.’
He was celebrated massively by fans. One of them, Omotayo Olokede, posted the late striker’s iconic goal at the USA 1994 World Cup tournament and celebration against Bulgaria to celebrate the day with the caption: ‘A goal to remember. Rashidi Yekini…a Legend.’
He was also celebrated by Nigerian writer and columnist, Japheth Omojuwa, who stated: ‘King Rashidi Yekini. The gold standard for the number 9 position in Super Eagles history.’
As for Rayo Kasali, he stated that Rashidi Yekini was his first football idol. His post: ‘Happy birthday to my very first football idol – King Rashidi Yekini. He would have been 60 today! Rest on, Legend!’
Oluwashina Okeleji, a Nigerian journalist was not left out as he praised Yekini, stating that he would always be remembered for his contributions towards soccer in Nigeria.
He posted: ‘Today would have been Baba Yekini’s 60th birthday. Happy birthday, Goalsfather. There was pride in his achievements, sadness at his death and anger at the way he had been treated by some. The memories will always be there’, he concluded.
Yekini’s professional career spanned over 20 years and saw him play in eight different countries. He also had a blistering goals laden club career. He scored 45 league goals in 53 games for his first club, Shooting Stars. He also scored 80 goals in 100 games for Abiola Babes, 112 goals in 130 games for Ivorian Giants African Sports and 94 goals in 148 games for Portuguese side Setubal and many more.
Many football lovers have shown disappointment that even though the world commemorated the 60th posthumous birthday of Rashidi Yekini, it reminds everyone of the unfulfilled promises to immortalize his name by his native Kwara state government.
Recall that both the former and current governors of his state have failed to fulfill their commitments to name a stadium in Ilorin after him. One year after he died, Abdulfatah Ahmed became the Kwara state governor. He however, did not fulfill his promise during his two terms in office. When his successor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq announced plans to immortalize Rashidi by naming the stadium after him, Nigerians were hopeful that at last, the late legend would be honored. Sadly, that promise is yet to be fulfilled, even 11 years after his demise.