The Lille frontman in on pace to overtake the legendary Super Eagles forward, but will he maintain impressive scoring ratio?
Rashidi Yekini’s place in the pantheon of Nigerian football history is cemented.
The late frontman scored the Super Eagles’ first ever World Cup goal against Bulgaria in 1994, matched with an iconic celebration, and currently sits as the country’s top scorer with 37 strikes in 58 caps.
In addition, the departed forward was the first Nigerian to win the African Footballer of the Year award in 1993, a feat that heralded more successes for the West African nation for the remainder of the 90s: Emmanuel Amunike picked up the award the very next year and was beaten to successive awards by George Weah in 1995, while Daniel Amokachi came in at third.
Nwankwo Kanu won it twice in 1996 and 1999, Victor Ikpeba in 1997 to continue an impressive period for Super Eagles’ stars. Jay-Jay Okocha narrowly missed out in 1998, pipped by Mustapha Hadji, with Sunday Oliseh ending third.
Only one Nigerian star has been in the top two since Kanu’s triumph at the end of that decade, Mikel John Obi, while only two other players – Okocha (twice) and Vincent Enyeama – have made the final three.
Rashidi Yekini of Nigeria vs. Zambia
Yekini was Nigeria’s trailblazer for that run of five titles in the first eight years of the award being handed out by the Confederation of African Football, who replaced France Football as the accolade’s organisers.
His influence in ending the West African nation’s 14-year wait for the Africa Cup of Nations is equally well documented; he scored five goals en route the country’s second triumph and was deservedly named player of the tournament.
While he will forever be remembered as the catalyst for his compatriots’ amazing run on the continent, the ex-striker 37-goal record for the Super Eagles still remains after over two decades.
Yekini not only beat Segun Odegbami’s haul of 22 strikes, but netted 15 more to establish an unassailable lead since his retirement in 1998.
Several contenders have stepped up but they haven’t even come close to the legendary striker who also has the best goals ratio in the history of the national team. Yakubu Aiyegbeni, Ikechukwu Uche, Obafemi Martins and recently Odion Ighalo have all threatened to compete with The Bull’s numbers, only to ultimately fall way short.