By Olayinka Elebute
Former Super Eagles skipper and coach Sunday Oliseh has revealed how star striker Rashidi Yekini shockingly went on his knees to beg his teammates for support ahead of the FIFA World Cup USA ’94.
Nigeria were making their debut at the tournament, and Yekini, who was the Super Eagles’ top scorer, realised that he was the envy of many and was afraid he would not find the needed service to score at the Mundial.
He had become the first Nigerian to be named CAF African Footballer of the Year in 1993. His five goals the following year had done them a world of good in winning the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations title in Tunisia, and Oliseh stated in his book Sunday Oliseh’s Audacity To Refuse that the giant striker had to go on his knees to beg for cooperation of his team mates before the USA ’94 World Cup.
It was an act that “shocked” Oliseh and has him “puzzled” till date.
According to the book “Rumours in the media stated that the players were unhappy that the socially awkward striker had refused to spend any of his POTY winning money as the Africa Footballer of the year in 1993 on teammates.
“The next day we had a meeting amongst ourselves called up by captain Keshi and the senior players. Several issues were discussed and like always, the youngsters and minorities, of which I was a member, just looked on speechless and impotent at the charade.
“His reasoning, as I later gathered, was that he feared being ganged up against at the World Cup proper and deprived of service in matches. This action broke me down and till date has me puzzled. I felt revolted but impotent.
“In my opinion, he was the real and only superstar in the group, the most prolific in front of the goal, and by far the best striker the Super Eagles ever produced.
“How could he beg for service when most of the goals he got at the AFCON he got from me and Finidi George, and we liked the guy, though he did not socialise enough with us to know it, Oliseh said.