Rashidi Yekini: 11 things to know about Nigeria’s iconic striker and all-time top scorer

Super Eagles legend Rashidi Yekini | PulseSports

Rashidi Yekini: 11 things to know about Nigeria’s iconic striker and all-time top scorer

Kolawole Babatunde 17:11 - 22.05.2024

Rashidi Yekini was a Nigerian professional footballer and is widely regarded as Nigeria’s greatest ever striker and one of the best ever in the history of African football.

Yekini is Nigeria’s all-time leading goalscorer with 37 goals in 58 appearances for the Super Eagles and holds the unique record of scoring Nigeria’s first-ever goal in FIFA World Cup history back in 1994.

Here are 11 things you should know about the late legendary Nigerian forward who was nicknamed “Goalsfather” during his playing days.  

Rashidi Yekini at the FIFA World Cup 1994 |Photo Credit: FIFA

Rashidi Yekini Profile

Full name: Rashidi Yekini 

Birth date: October 23, 1963

Age: 48 (at the time of his death in May 2012)

Nationality: Nigerian

Place of birth: Kaduna, Nigeria

Date of death: May 4, 2012 (aged 48)

Place of death: Ibadan, Nigeria

Height: 6ft 3in

Mother: Alhaja Sikiratu

Occupation: Former professional football player

Position: Striker

Former clubs: Vitória de Setúbal, Olympiacos, Sporting de Gijón, FC Zürich, among others

Spouses: Married three times; names largely kept private

Children: 3 daughters (Yemisi, Omoyemi, and Damilola)

Net worth: About $5 million

Rashidi Yekini Background

Rashidi Yekini is a name synonymous with Nigerian football, but he was not always destined for the spotlight. Yekini grew up in the northern part of Nigeria, where he honed skills not on the pitch, but as a welder and mechanic. It was only later that his passion for football truly developed. 

However, it was not until 1981 that he took his first steps in the world of football, as he was discovered by scouts before joining UNTL FC in Kaduna.

Where is Rashidi Yekini from?

Rashidi Yekini was born in Kaduna, Nigeria. However, his parents are Yoruba, from Kwara state. Kaduna is located in the north-central part of the country, while Kwara is also from the same region but is majorly occupied by the Yoruba people from the southwestern part of Nigeria.

Rashidi Yekini height and weight

Rashidi Yekini is Nigeria's all-time highest scorer with 37 goals. (Photo Credit: Imago)

Yekini was a towering figure with a height of 1.91 meters (6 feet 3 inches) which helped him become a handful for defenders. While sources differ slightly, his weight is estimated to be around 80-82 kg (176-181 lbs). This combination of height and strength made him a dominant force in the penalty area.

How old is Rashidi Yekini?

Rashidi Yekini

Rashidi Yekini was born on October 23, 1963 in Kaduna state and he was 48 years old when he tragically passed away in 2012. While no longer alive, his legacy as a footballer lives on.  He was a prolific striker who dominated the Nigerian national team and left his mark on international football. 

When did Rashidi Yekini die?

Rashidi Yekini leads the Top 10 Super Eagles all-time top scorers list (IMAGO)

Sadly, Rashidi Yekini passed away on May 4, 2012 at only 48 years old. This news came as a shock to many and reports suggested he had been battling health issues for some time, including bipolar disorder. Despite his passing, Yekini's achievements and influence on Nigerian football remain a source of national pride.

What killed Rashidi Yekini? 

The cause of Rashidi Yekini's death in 2012 remains a mystery. According to reports, he battled an extended illness in the years leading up to his passing, with mental health issues, including bipolar disorder being mentioned. There's also controversy surrounding his final days, with some alleging he was taken against his will by his siblings for treatment. However, Yekini’s mother has claimed that her son was not killed and his siblings who took him for treatment were only trying to help him. 

Which clubs did Rashidi Yekini play for?

Yekini played for a wide range of clubs throughout his career, across seven different countries. Here's a glimpse into some of the prominent ones:

Nigeria: UNTL Kaduna, Shooting Stars (now 3SC), Abiola Babes (defunct)

Portugal: Vitória de Setúbal (his most successful club)

Greece: Olympiacos

Spain: Sporting Gijón

Switzerland: FC Zürich

Tunisia: Club Athlétique Bizertin

Saudi Arabia: Al-Shabab Riyadh

Rashidi Yekini Career

Rashidi Yekini's professional career involved a lot of movement, taking him across seven countries.

His domestic career began in Nigeria with UNTL FC, but it was with the Shooting Stars that he became famous as he netted an impressive 45 goals in just 53 games before sealing a move to Vitória de Setúbal in Portugal in 1984.

It was at Vitória de Setúbal he enjoyed the most success in his career, thriving for several seasons. Across his career he also played in Spain, Greece, Tunisia, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, and even Tanzania. 

His international career began in 1984, and it was soon clear Yekini was a force to be reckoned with. He led the Super Eagles attack for many years and in 1993, his brilliance earned him the African Footballer of the Year award. 

Rashidi Yekini

The striker participated in two World Cups (1994 and 1998) and four Africa Cup of Nations (1988, 1990, 1992, 1994). In 1994, he led Nigeria to the AFCON title, playing a pivotal role in the tournament, winning the best player award and the golden boot.  

Yekini etched his name in national memory by scoring the country's first-ever World Cup goal, an iconic moment where his emotional celebration, tears welling up while holding the net, became a lasting image of the tournament.

Super Eagles legend Rashidi Yekini, scored Nigeria's first goal at the Word cup| GOAL

Rashidi Yekini Stats

National team: Yekini holds the record for most goals scored for the Super Eagles, with 37 goals in 62 appearances

Shooting Stars: 45 goals in 53 appearances

Vitória Setúbal: 94 goals in 128 appearances across two spells

Olympiacos: Two goals in six appearances 

Sporting Gijón: Three goals in 14 appearances 

Zürich: 14 goals in 29 appearances

Gateway FC: Seven goals in 26 appearances 

Rashidi Yekini Achievements

Rashidi Yekini achieved a lot in his career and left his mark on the game. Here are some of his achivements:

African Footballer of the Year (1993)

Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) Winner (1994)

AFCON Top Scorer (1992 & 1994)

AFCON Team of the Tournament (1992 & 1994)

Member of the Order of the Niger (1994)

Rashidi Yekini Wife and Family

Rashidi Yekini's personal life was complex, and he kept information on his family private. However, the late Yekini had three wives throughout his life and was blessed with three daughters, named Yemisi, Omoyemi, and Damilola.

Rashidi Yekini Networth

Rashidi Yekini's net worth at the time of his passing was estimated to be around $5 million. His wealth included salaries during his playing days, endorsements and earnings from business ventures.