Rashidi Yekini

Today’s Doodle (on Google) celebrates iconic Nigerian footballer Rashidi Yekini, an accomplished forward nicknamed the “Goalsfather” for his ability to sneak shots by the keeper. He was born on this day in 1963, in Kaduna, Nigeria.

His early days were difficult and he had to make money as a mechanic and a welder to make ends meet. Even though he had to do all these to survive he still had his focus on football and in 1981 he joined UNTL FC, in Kaduna.

Rashid was a talented striker which made him popular and for this he was scouted to play for the shooting stars, scoring an impressive 45 goals in 53 games. His spectacular scoring abilities earned him the title of African Footballer of the Year in 1993, and he was the first Nigerian player to receive this honor.

The following year, he helped bring the Shooting Stars to the finals of the African Champions Cup. His popularity grew outside of Nigeria, as he also played for football clubs in Spain, Tanzania, Saudi Arabia, Portugal, Tunisia, Switzerland, and Greece.Yekini also won the Bola de Prata (Silver Ball) while playing for a Portuguese team called Vitória Setúbal, for being the league’s top-scoring player in the 1993/1994 season.

Yekini helped Nigeria’s national team, the Super Eagles, qualify for the 1994 World Cup. He made it a game to remember. Not only did he score the first goal of the game, but also the first World Cup goal for Nigeria in a 3–0 win against Bulgari. His iconic goal celebration in the world cup serves as today’s Doodle artwork. Many consider it one of the most iconic goal celebrations in football history. He played with the Super Eagles for 4 years, including the World Cup in 1998.

Yekini helped the Super Eagles win the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations in Tunisia where he also topped the goal charts and was named best player of the competition. In 1988, he also participated at Olympic level in Seoul.

Unfortunately, Yekini died on 4 May in Ibadan at a young age of 48 after suffering from bipolar disorder for an extended period of time.

In his 58 games for Nigeria, he scored 37 times, and to this day holds the record for most goals scored for the country.

Happy posthumous birthday Rashidi Yekini!