On Monday, Google Doodle celebrated the 60th birthday of Rashidi Yekini, the famed Nigerian footballer known as the Goalsfather for his goal-scoring skills.
Yekini was born on October 23, 1963, in Kaduna, Nigeria, and his path from a difficult childhood marked by homelessness and poverty to football glory is recognised.
Yekini worked as a welder and mechanic before gaining the attention of scouts. In 1981, he joined his first football team, ‘UNTL FC’ in Kaduna, and later played for the Shooting Stars, scoring 45 goals in 53 games.
Yekini’s outstanding goal-scoring abilities earned him the title of ‘African Footballer of the Year’ in 1983, making him the first Nigerian player to do so. He was instrumental in helping the Shooting Stars to the African Champions Cup finals the following year.
Yekini has played for football clubs in Spain, Tanzania, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Greece, Portugal, and Switzerland, in addition to Nigeria. Notably, he won the Bola de Prata (Silver Ball) as the league’s best scorer in the 1993-94 season while playing for the Portuguese club Vitória Setbal.
Yekini, a prominent figure for Nigeria’s national team, the ‘Super Eagles,’ was instrumental in their qualification for the 1994 World Cup. After scoring Nigeria’s first goal, his iconic celebration of gripping the net with both arms and crying tears of joy is indelible in football history.
Rashidi Yekini continued his football career with the Super Eagles for over 14 years, playing in the 1998 World Cup and scoring 37 goals in 58 appearances for Nigeria, a record for the most goals scored for the country.