Rashidi Yekini... NFF, 1994 World Cup teammates, shun burial.

Date: 2012-05-07

Nigeria's all-time highest goal scorer, Rashidi Yekini, who died on Friday, was, on Saturday buried like a 'commoner' in his Ira village in Kwara State, without his colleagues in the national team in attendance. He was aged 49.

Apart from Ike Shorunmu, ex-Super Eagles goal-keeper, the graveside was devoid of any high profile footballer, including his colleagues to the USA '94 FIFA World Cup.Yekini, while in the national team, had scored a total of 37 goals in 58 matches while he became the first Nigerian to win the African Footballer of the Year in 1993.

Yekini's 37 goals for the national team is still a re-cord that is yet to be broken. He also scored the first goal for Nigeria at the 1994 World Cup, against Bulgaria, a match which the country won 3-0.

Also, no official of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) was sighted during the burial rite witnessed mostly by locals in his native home. But the solemn event was, however attended by a former Secretary-General of the Nigeria Football Association, Chief Taiwo Ogunjobi.

Also during the poorly attended burial, Yekini's remains were put inside a rough wooden coffin devoid of any adornment. He was lowered into the grave at 4pm.

Furthermore, there was no ceremony to indicate that a star was being buried.

The Jinnizah prayers for the deceased was led by the Chief Imam of the town, Sheikh Sheu Tijani Giwa and supported by other Muslim clerics from the town.

In his sermon after the burial, the Chief Imam, Sheikh Giwa said that, every soul will taste death no matter the time.He said that everybody should do good things as if they would not wake up the next day.

Sheikh Giwa added that people should remember that life temporary and, "we must endeavour to do good and worship God because nobody knows the time he or she will die on this earth".

The Chief Imam who sympathised with the people of the town, footballers, federal and state governments, however prayed Allah to grant him eternal rest.

While speaking with newsmen at Ira yesterday on the demise of Yekini, Ogunjobi, said, "It was sad that he (Yekini) died at a young age". He said that the deceased had contributed to the development of Shooting Stars of Ibadan and the national team during his period.

"Two months ago, I was driving along Ring Road, Ibadan with one of my friends and he (Yekini) saw us and stopped and we exchanged pleasantries and later, we called each other after that day and I was so shocked when I heard of his death yesterday (Friday) in Ibadan," he said.

Ogunjobi added, "He (Yekini) was discovered by Segun Odegbami and me while on playing tours of Kaduna in 1981 and since then, Yekini has grown to be the biggest star when it comes to goal scoring in Ni-geria and Africa."

He, however, called on "the Federal Government, the Shooting Stars of Ibadan and South-West governors to immortalise him, and not by naming any mushroom stadium after him but by putting in place structure or programme that will be of great attraction to foreigners in this country".

The state governor, Al-haji Abdulfatah Ahmed in his reaction said, "He received with great shock and disbelief, the sudden and untimely death of one of the most finest and dedicated football players Nigeria has ever produced, Rashidi Yekini".

The statement which was signed by Chief Press Secretary to Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed, Alhaji Abdulwahab Oba said, "During his (Yekini) active days the late Yekini demonstrated uncommon skills on the field of play and commitment to the Nigerian project that he was known not only in Nigeria but across the African continent as a great footballer".

The royal father of the ancient town, Oba Oyetunji Oyewale Oyetoro, described the death of Yekini as shocking and painful to the people of Ira, Kwara State and the country in particular.

He said that Yekini's name had boosted the image of the town and he would ever be remembered.

Oba Oyetoro, who called on the Federal Government to immortalise him like it was done for Teslim Balogun, said such gesture would motivate more Nigerian footballers to contribute more to the development of football rather than love of money.

Also yesterday, Sports Writers Association of Nigeria, Kwara State Council, described the death of Yekini as a big loss to the country, noting however that the association was consoled that the football legend came, saw and conquered.The Osun State governor, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, in his reaction yesterday described the death of Yekini as shocking.

He called for the setting up of an endowment fund for the family of the deceased. Aregbesola, how-ever, announced the sum of N1 million contribution of the state government towards the endowment.

In his reaction too, the National Secretary of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, who said that he was not aware of the sickness of the deceased lamented that his death was a great shock to soccer development.

Oyinlola, who was an early caller at Ira to sympathise with family of the deceased, however, called on sports administrators to take care of ex-footballers so as to encourage the upcoming ones to develop soccer in the country.

Present at the burial were Ogunjobi, Shorunmu, the Ondo chairman of NFA, the members of ABS FC of Ilorin, Kwara United players, Commissioner for Information in Kwara State, Prince Tunji Moronfoye; Osun State Commissioner for Sports, Dr. Stephen Kola Balogun, representative of National Sports Commission, Mr. Stephen Olarinoye, and other sports men and women across the country.




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