By Tunde Sanni and Kunle Adewale
Former Super Eagles striker Rashidi Yekini Friday died in a herbal home in his home town Irra, Oyun Local Government of Kwara State after a prolonged illness. Sources said the former Sporting Gijon striker was initially flown to the United Kingdom for treatment.
But when his health did not improve, he was flown back home to be treated with local medicine before he eventually gave up the ghost on Friday evening.
His death was confirmed to THISDAY by the Kwara State Commissioner for Information, Tunji Moro-nfoye, who comes from the same community as the deceased striker.
The gangling striker has the enviable record of scoring Nigeria's first goal during the country's maiden appearance at the World Cup in 1994 in the United States of America.
Yekini was born on October 23, 1963 in Kaduna. He featured for several local clubs like the IICC Shooting Stars of Ibadan and the defunct Abiola Babes before he moved to Cote d'Ivoire to play for Africa Sports National. From there he joined Vitoria de Setubal of Portugal, where he recorded memorable feats in his football career. His sterling performance earned him the African Footballer of the Year title in 1993, the first ever in the country.
In the 1994 summer, Yekini moved to Olympia-kos but did not get along well with his teammates and had to leave.
His career never really got back on track, not even upon a return to Setubal after another unimpressive spell with Sporting Gijon. In 2003, at 39, he returned to Nigeria to pitch tent with Julius Berger of Lagos and later Gateway FC of Abeokuta.
Yekini also holds the record of the highest goal scorer in the national team soring 37 goals in 58 appearances.
He had featured in several local clubs like the Oluyole soccer lord, 3SC FC Ibadan, defunct Abiola Babes FC and defunct Gateway FC all of Abeokuta.
He is survived by a daughter who is in school in Dublin.