Former Nigeria Under23 assistant coach, Ben Iroha has said that Nigeria’s football family has lost a gem in the person of late Rashidi Yekini.
The prolific striker was confirmed dead on Friday in the ancient city of Ibadan after a brief illness.
The remains of the late 49-year old footballer was committed to mother earth on April 5 according to Muslim rites in his hometown, Ira, Kwara State.
Iroha told SuperSport.com that the news of the death of his former teammate was saddening and shocking as he prayed to God to grant his amiable soul a perfect rest. “I received the news with deep shock and sadness, it’s a big lost to Nigeria, Africa and the world.
“Nigerian football won’t be the same again, we’ve lost a rare gem. May God grant his soul eternal rest and his family the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss,” he said.
On the fond memories he has of the late Yekini, the former Nigerian defence ace said there was no dull moment with the fallen hero. Yekini was a funny guy, makes jest and crack jokes, there is absolutely no dull moment once he is around.
“He was a committed player to the core, never seen such a player, he loves to play and score goals,” he said. The former Iwuanyanwu Nationale player said Nigerians should celebrate the late star and not mourn him.
“Over 16 years he left the pitch nobody has fit into his shoes, it’s is a big shoe even in death, so we should celebrate, honour and not necessarily mourn him,” he said.
The widely travelled international started his career at the domestic scene before he hooked up with Ivorien Africa Sport before he moved to Vitoria de Setubal where he had a memorable time.
He became the Portuguese first division’s top scorer scoring 34 goals in 32 matches which earned him the title of African Footballer of the Year in 1993, the first ever by a Nigerian.
Yekini had a brief spell at Olympiakos, Sporting de Gijon, FC Zurich and Al-Shabab Riyadh before he rejoined Africa Sports.
He was a member of the 1994 Fifa World Cup where he scored Nigeria’s first ever goal in the 3–0 win against Bulgaria and the 1998 World Cup. Yekini helped the Super Eagles win the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations, where he topped the goal charts and participated at Seoul 1988 Olympics.
He scored a total of 37 goals for the Super Eagles in 58 appearances to rank Nigeria’s highest goal scorer of all-time.