Written by Funmi Erinle, Omodele Idris, Niyi Alebiosu, Dipo Ogunsola and Lanre Olabisi Saturday, 05 May 2012
NIGERIA'S goal king and one-time African Footballer Of The Year, Rashidi Yekini, is dead. He was aged 49.
He died yesterday in a private hospital in Ibadan. His remains will be buried today at Ira, Kwara State.
It was a bombardment of enquiries from concerned football fans who wanted first- hand information from Saturday Tribunesports after they read the obituary of Yekini in the social networking site, Facebook yesterday afternoon.
After series of enquiries, Saturday Tribunesports eventually gathered at about 10 pm on Friday night that Yekini had actually given up the ghost.
He died in the early hours of yesterday at a private hospital after what had been described as prolong mental disorder.
Confirming the death to Saturday Tribunesports yesterday, one-time national teammate of Yekini, Ike Shorunmu, told Saturday Tribunesports that he was informed by the mother of one of Yekini's children that the gangling striker was dead.
''It's so sad but the truth of the matter is that our dear Rashidi Yekini is dead,''Shorunmu lamented. ''He died in a private hospital in Ibadan,'' he said.
''The woman who had a daughter for Yekini told me this sad news and told me that he would be buried today in Ira, Kwara State,'' said Shorunmu.
Also, Kwara State's Commissioner for Information, Tunji Moronfoye, confirmed the death of Yekini.
''He died today (yesterday)in Ibadan, he was a close friend of mine, a relative of sort having the same root from Kwara State. We are second cousins in fact. He died of depression. After, he left football, he could not find his feet, he lived a solitary life and was mostly unhappy. May Allah grant him rest,'' Moronfoye prayed.
Yekini will be buried today according to Muslim rites in Ira, Oyun Local Government Area of Kwara State.
He was Nigeria’s national record goal scorer, netting 37 goals in 58 appearances. He represented Nigeria at the 1984, 1988, 1990, 1992, 1994 Africa Nations Cup finals.
He also represented Nigeria at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea.
Yekini played for Nigeria at the USA'94 and France '98 World Cups finals. In 1993, he was crowned African Footballer Of The Year; the first time a Nigerian would be so honoured.
Segun Odegbami, former Nigeria's captain, expressed shock over the demise of Yekini, saying that it was unbelievable.
''It can't be true, I can't believe it, Rashidi dead,? he exclaimed.
His neighbours told Saturday Tribunesports yesternight that Yekini had been taken out of his Ibadan residence by relatives when it was obvious that he was finding life difficult.
''He had been ill and about two weeks ago, some relatives of his came to carry him to a place we didn't quite know so that he could get proper treatment.''
They added that but for Saturday Tribunesports story, they would not have believed that Yekini was in Ibadan not to talk of dying in the city.
Last year, Saturday Tribunesports carried a detailed feature on the plight of the player and published photographs of his estate which was overgrown with weeds when the condition of his abnormal behaviour got to a head.
The former Super Eagles top striker was survived by three wives and three children.
According to Moronfoye; the ex-national team player popular known as ‘gangling’ has been living a recluse life.
Speaking further, he informed that the late top striker has been living alone without all the wives and the children.
Moronfoye said, “you know none of the wives lived with him, he had three children from three different women and this really affected him,” he said.
It came like a bolt from the blues. The death of gangling Rashidi Yekini came as a rude shock as friends and families bombarded the Tribune sports desk to confirm the death of the Super Eagles all time record goal scorer.
Former Nigeria Football Association General Secretary, Chief Taiwo Ogunjobi was stunned as he was unable to gather himself together amid sobs.
“It is like a bad dream. I never believed it when I first heard the news until I confirmed it from a reliable source. It is highly incredible. I’m lost for words. What else do you want me to say? It is sad, and a sad chapter in Nigerian football.
Segun Odegbami: Yekini can’t be dead like this. Do you people know what you are saying. It can’t be possible. I don’t want to believe it. Yekini is dead or what are you saying? I’m short of words.
Ike Shorounmu: Initially, I have to confirm to you guys (Tribune reporters) that he was not dead. But what I’m confirming now is a bad news. I don’t know what to say. It is a bad day in the history of Nigerian football. Don’t forget that I’m close to Rashidi. I’m yet to wake up from a bad dream.
Demola Olajire, NFF, PRO: What are you people hearing in Ibadan. What exactly is happening. I just want to ask. Are you saying the man is dead? No. No. No. It can’t happen. Let me confirm from other sources. I will get across to you later after my confirmation.
Elder Bode Oyewole: “What is all this about. Is it really true. I don’t want to believe it. Are you really sure that Yekini is dead. Please tell me it is not true. I refuse to believe this. If it is true, then this is areal tragedy. I don’t want to talk again.”
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