Former Super Eagles striker Rashidi Yekini – who died 10 years ago – was a man ‘who can never be replaced’ and will forever remain indelible in the memory of Nigerians, the late footballer’s former teammates Emmanuel Amuneke and Ike Shorunmu have stated.
Yekini died May 4, 2012, aged 48.
The man dubbed the ‘Goals father’ remains, by some distance, the country’s greatest and most prolific marksman. No one has even come close to matching his impressive haul of 37 strikes from just 58 appearances.
While celebrating the 10th anniversary of Yekini’s death Wednesday, Amuneke and Shorunmu said he would be forever remembered.
“Rashidi Yekini can never be replaced in our hearts. Though he has passed on, he can never be replaced and that’s the reason you can see Nigerians still paying tributes to him,” Amuneke, Yekini’s teammate at the 1994 AFCON and US ’94 World Cup, told The PUNCH.
“For me, it was a great privilege as a kid to have nursed the ambition of playing for Nigeria and even more privileged to have shared the dressing room with him and played together at the AFCON and World Cup.
“He will always be in my heart and we can only continue to pray that his soul rest in peace.”
Shorunmu also spoke highly of the former Shooting Stars striker.
“It was just like yesterday that the news of his death broke,” he said.
“I still miss him; anytime I have a flash of some of the things we did together in the national team, I feel bad because he was a friend, a big brother.
“Yekini was a very jovial person and the moment he entered the dressing room, the atmosphere changed. We miss his personality in our current national team. When he spoke Yoruba then, we would all laugh; he was so amazing.
“He will forever be missed because he is irreplaceable.”
A hero of Nigeria’s first World Cup in USA 1994, Yekini scored the Eagles’ first goal at the Mundial and was also crucial to the team as they ended the country’s 14-year wait to win the Africa Cup of Nations in 1994, having fallen short in 1984, 1988 and 1990 since their 1980 AFCON success.
The Vitoria de Setubal icon netted five times in Tunisia to top the tournament’s scoring charts and was deservedly named the competition’s best player.