Nigeria’s highest scoring international Rashidi Yekini had a great deak of animosity against him by fellow players at the 1994 World Cup in the United States of America, former captain Sunday Oliseh has revealed in an interview.
Yekini went to the Mundial as African player of the year after his exploits in 1993 where he scored eight goals to earn the Super Eagles their debut at the tournament. He also finished as top scorer at that year’s African Cup of Nations tournament in Tunisia with five goals as Nigeria claimed their second ever trophy.
He had comfortably secured his legendary status on the continent by the time he arrived on the world stage to score his country’s first ever World Cup goal after a simple tap in from a Finidi George cross in their first game against Bulgaria, which ended 3-0.
Yekini celebrated his goal by famously clinging onto the net. He did it all alone, a sign that there was something wrong with the team. He did not score any more as the country lost out in the second round against Italy.
“The only reason why I am saying this is that for the future and for the country, for people to learn and because I feel that honours have not been given to Yekini like it should…some players had beefs with Yekini and all that,” said Oliseh to SuperSport.
That squad included present Nigeria coach Samson Siasia, U23 coach Austin Eguavoen, former Togo coach Stephen Keshi, Chelsea sporting director Michael Emenalo, Daniel Amokachi, Austin Okocha and Peter Rufai among many others.
“Of course he had some beef with some players because I was in the background, I was watching everybody and I know those who were…”
“Some of our players were madly, sickly, mentally jealous and the moment Yekini was named the [best] player. He was leaving for Panathinaikos. There was some jealousy there and Yekini himself, he was not smart enough to calm things down…but with due respect…”
“A lot of things about it, you know, personally, if you look at it, which other striker do we have in the history of Nigeria who strikes 30 metre shots. If Yekini can count the number of goals at the highest level, it will be over a hundred… of all the strikers we talk about in Nigeria, which other striker?
“None! None! None!” Oliseh said.
Oliseh retired from Nigeria in 2002 after being dropped from the World Cup squad for his role in a players’ revolt when Shuaibu Amodu was sacked as coach. He had played for Ajax, Juventus and Dortmund in an eventful career.