Rashidi Yekini, a legendary Nigerian footballer known as the “Goalsfather” for his ability at beating goalkeepers, is honoured in today’s Doodle. He was born in Kaduna, Nigeria, on this day in 1963.
Yekini’s early years were challenging because he had to deal with homelessness and poverty. His first jobs were as a mechanic and welder to earn money, but football was his main passion. He quickly started practising in front of scouts, and in 1981 he signed with UNTL FC in Kaduna, which was his first football team.
Next, the gifted forward played for the Shooting Stars, where he scored an incredible 45 goals in 53 contests. He was the first Nigerian player to receive this honour in 1983, when his incredible scoring ability earned him the title of African Footballer of the Year. The Shooting Stars reached the African Champions Cup finals the next year with his help.
He also represented football clubs in Spain, Tanzania, Saudi Arabia, Portugal, Tunisia, Switzerland, and Greece in addition to Nigeria. He received the Bola de Prata (Silver Ball), given to the league’s top scorer for the 1993–94 season, while representing the Vitória Setbal team in Portugal.
Yekini contributed to Nigeria’s Super Eagles national team’s World Cup qualification in 1994. On June 21, Nigeria played Bulgaria, and Yekini made it a match to remember. He not only scored the opening goal of the match but also Nigeria’s first World Cup goal. He went into the net and grabbed it with both arms as he cheered and sobbed with joy, overcome with excitement and pride. It is regarded by many as one of the most famous goal celebrations in football history, and it served as the model for today’s Doodle.
He continued to play for the Super Eagles for a little more than 14 years after that, including another attempt at the World Cup in 1998. He scored 37 goals in 58 games for Nigeria, setting a record that he still retains today.
Happy birthday to Rashidi Yekini!
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