OLISEH: YEKINI IS A MONUMENTAL LOSS
Posted: May 07, 2012
Ex-Super Eagles midfielder Sunday Oliseh tells JOHNNY EDWARD that Nigeria has lost a rare gem with the death of the country’s record goalscorer, Rashidi Yekini. He also recalls the striker’s exploits during their time together in the national team.
You must have been devastated to hear about the shocking death of Rashidi Yekini, your former national team mate...
It's the most shocking news that I have received in a very long time. He was a very good friend, Nigeria's best ever striker; a player I learnt so much from during my days with him in the Super Eagles.
When you told me about the news, I had to confirm it from Dosu Joseph because it was a rude shock for me. We have lost a brother, friend, legend and a nice compatriot. The most painful aspect of it all is that we lost a great opportunity to find out about his secrets of how to score great goals easily like he did. This and more he has now taken with him to heaven. What a monumental loss!
What kind of person was Yekini?
He was a very calm guy and loveable person once you got to know and understand him away from football. And in front of goal whenever he was on the pitch to play, he was a finisher with high class. He was definitely one of the best African players and legends in the history of our football. He almost single- handedly qualified Nigeria for our first ever World Cup in USA in 1994.
He made me the ‘Pass Master’ that I was nicknamed, because he converted most of the chances that came his way during the matches we played together. I don't think any striker could be compared to him because he was miles ahead of them all. One of the reasons why tears still rolled down my eyes now is that I never got a chance to say thank you to Rashidi Yekini, because some of his goals made me popular more than I was then. You can be sure that he would score each time he had an attempt at goal. He was very patriotic and was dedicated to his duties on the pitch- an attitude which is still missing in many of our footballers at the moment.
Can you recall some of the great memories of playing along with him in the national team?
That was our quarter-final match in Tunisia against Zaire in 1994. I stole the ball from an opponent on the flanks and immediately sent a pass to him. Instead of him controlling it with his knee, in order not to lose the forward-running momentum, he took it with the exterior part of his right foot further in the air and struck it with that same exterior part of the right foot into the roof of the net.
The goalkeeper and the Zairean defenders stood no chance at all and Yekini once again won us the match and shot us into the semifinals against Cote d Ivoire ; where he also scored the leveler after Michele Bassole had shot the Ivorians into the lead with a brace.
But don't you think our national heroes should be immortalised even before their death?
It should be so, but will they ever do it? That is why the present generation of players usually refuse to play for our national teams or give their best even if they honour invitations because our administrators have refused to give the benefits of serving and performing for the country to their predecessors. Most players in our set are yet to receive the houses which the Nigerian government promised us back then up till now.
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