On Monday, the world celebrated the 60th birthday of Rashidi Yekini, the iconic Nigerian footballer renowned for his extraordinary goal-scoring prowess and affectionately nicknamed the “Goalsfather.”
Born on October 23, 1963, in Kaduna, Nigeria, Rashidi Yekini’s life story is an inspiring testament to determination and passion. Faced with adversity in his early years, he persevered and ultimately left an indelible mark on the world of football.
Yekini’s journey to football stardom began when his passion for the sport caught the eye of scouts. Before making a name for himself on the field, he worked as a welder and mechanic. In 1981, he joined his first football club, ‘UNTL FC’ in Kaduna. His prolific scoring ability quickly made him a rising star, and he later joined the prestigious Shooting Stars football club, where he amassed a remarkable record of 45 goals in just 53 games.
In 1983, Rashidi Yekini’s incredible goal-scoring abilities earned him the coveted title of ‘African Footballer of the Year.’ He became the first Nigerian player to achieve this prestigious honor. The following year, he played a pivotal role in leading the Shooting Stars to the finals of the African Champions Cup.
Rashidi Yekini’s football journey extended beyond the borders of Nigeria. He graced the pitches of various football clubs in countries such as Spain, Tanzania, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Greece, Portugal, and Switzerland. Notably, during the 1993-94 season, he secured the Bola de Prata (Silver Ball) as the top-scoring player in the Portuguese league while representing Vitória Setúbal.
While his club career was illustrious, Yekini was also a key figure for Nigeria’s national team, the ‘Super Eagles.’ He played a crucial role in their qualification for the 1994 World Cup, which remains a historic milestone for Nigerian football. His iconic celebration, clutching the net with both arms and shedding tears of joy after scoring Nigeria’s first goal in the World Cup, is etched in the annals of football history.
Yekini’s contributions to the Super Eagles extended for over 14 years, and he participated in the 1998 World Cup, leaving an indomitable legacy. In total, he scored an impressive 37 goals in 58 games for Nigeria, setting a record for the most goals scored for the country.
Rashidi Yekini’s 60th birthday is a momentous occasion that not only celebrates his contributions to football but also his resilience and determination in the face of adversity. His legacy lives on, inspiring generations of football enthusiasts in Nigeria and beyond. On this special day, Google Doodle pays a fitting tribute to the “Goalsfather” who continues to inspire the world with his remarkable journey from hardship to football greatness.