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Rashidi Yekini’s Last Days: Ex-wife, Mother, Friends & Neighbours Speak on the Late Football Legend’s Final Struggles

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When news of the death of erstwhile Super Eagles forward Rashidi Yekini went viral, questions were raised among several groups as to the state of health of the late football legend during his last days.

Yekini was buried in his hometown, Irra, Oyun local government in Kwara State on Friday, May 4th, 2012 after years of illness. He was laid to rest on Saturday, May 5th 2012 at Ira in Kwara State, his home town, according to Islamic rites.

Yekini, who won the 1993 African Footballer of the Year award gave Nigeria its first-ever World Cup goal in USA 1994. He died in a private hospital in Ibadan survived by his mother and three children.

While speaking about the conditions that led to his death at his burial, Yekini’s former wife, Adeola, said that many of his friends and those who were close to the late Super Eagles star allowed his health to deteriorate without raising an alarm.

“We were married with a daughter but we stayed away from each other after the divorce. Despite the separation, I visited him regularly each time I came to Ibadan before his death. We had arguments but it was because of the way he was living.”

“I disapproved his decision to live alone in such a big house although I was not trying to come back. He was such a gentle man but people who surrounded him were his enemies. They must have noticed changes in his life but they kept quiet. He was so generous and kind but they paid him back in a poor way.”

She also blamed the media for prying into his personal life.

“I was not living with him so I cannot speak about his final days. Perhaps he would have lived longer if the media had left him in peace. Your people poked into his personal life all the time and abused his modesty. Since his death, I have had so many calls but what do they expect me to say about a dead former husband. I played my part in his rehabilitation but I was practically alone in the fight. Each time I read something negative about him, I would rush to Ibadan but I was meeting a brick wall and it was disappointing and painful.”

Meanwhile, his mother, Alhaja Sikiratu said that her son had been battling with mental illness since the year 2010. She added that several attempts made to take care of the former Super Eagles’ striker proved abortive as the deceased claimed he was mentally sound.

“We have been on the problem since 2010 and we tried our best but my son refused to be taken care of. When he came back, we asked him why he has done what he did but he replied by burning all his belongings. I lost my husband in 1978 and Rashidi has been with me since then,” she added in tears.

Dimeji Lawal, a former youth international who lives in Ibadan said he knew Yekini for many years.

“We all loved him but for reasons I can’t explain he did not want to socialize with people a reason I feel had effects on him on the long run,” he said.

“We would have loved to help Yekini in our little way but until his last days, he wasn’t really accessible.” Mr. Lawal described Yekini as a philanthropist who did all in his power to help the course of others.

After retiring from international and club football, Yekini led a low profile life in Ibadan, living in a four bedroom apartment on Ring road, away from his family who stayed in his hometown in Kwara state. Accounts from neighbours and associates paint a picture of a man who struggled with serious mental and delusional disorder after losing life savings to a bungled investment.

One neigbour, who claimed to have known the ex-international well over a decade, traced the problems to a deal between Yekini and a confidant known only as Ibraheem.

“He has always been a quiet person who does not want attention on him,” the neighbour, who refused to be named, said.

“But for me, Yekini started losing his mind and began behaving erratically due to his loss of huge sum of money to the death of his only confidant and business partner, Ibraheem, who ran a bureau de change in Sabo Area of Ibadan.”

Before his death, all his automobiles were in a state of disrepair and many times he was seen trekking in shorts in different parts of the city.

Many of such outings, another former neighbour, Mukaila Babalola said, led Yekini to stalls where women sold roasted plantains(bole) on Onireke road near Multichoice office in Ibadan.

“Always in short but not sport trousers,” said Babalola, who claimed to have seen Yekini regularly the past two to three years. “I remember reversing my car upon sighting him soliloquizing along Golf club area last year. I greeted him but he answered reluctantly.”

On his website, former teammate and defensive midfielder, Sunday Oliseh, called Yekini “one of the best African players and legends to ever walk this earth.”

But Oliseh reckoned that somehow a world cup match in which Yekini featured and was booed by fans as he was nearing retirement played a devastating role in the former striker’s end.

“Yekini felt betrayed and this haunted him till his death,” Oliseh wrote. “How could one give so much and receive so little in return from your own kind?” he asked.

More than that possibly haunted Yekini. Oliseh recalls the Super Eagles’ African nations’ cup triumph of 1994 in which Yekini played a key role, and winning the vital matches for Nigeria.

“Almost 20 years after this major conquest, Yekini is yet to receive the house the Nigerian government promised him,” Oliseh said. “In other words, he died not being rewarded for his efforts to make Nigeria great.”

Yekini’s lawyer and friend, Barrister Jubril Olanrewaju, said the late footballer lived alone till his death which was alien to our culture in Africa.

His burial attracted a large crowd of football fans and eminent personalities. They include the Kwara State Commissioner for Information and Communication, Prince Tunji Moronfoye, who pledged government’s assisstance to his family;  Osun state Commissioner for Sports, Mr Stephen Kola- Balogun who donated N1 million each to the family and children of the deceased on behalf of the State Government and the Oyo state Sports Commissioner, Dapo Lam-Adesina. The Kwara state Govt also promised N1.5million to Yekini’s family.

Also in attendance were some ex-internationals who played alongside Yekini – Mutiu Adepoju and Ike Shorounmu.

Here are some pictures from his burial:

News Source: Punch | Vanguard | Premium Times

Adeola Adeyemo is a graduate of Industrial Relations and Personnel Management from University of Lagos. However, her passion is writing and she worked as a reporter with NEXT Newspaper. She believes that anything can be written about; anything can be a story depending on the angle it is seen from and the writer's imagination. When she is not writing news or feature articles, she slips into her fantasies and creates interesting fiction pieces. She blogs at www.deolascope.blogspot.com

67 Comments

  1. Oluwasayo

    May 7, 2012 at 9:06 am

    What a sad end. I wish things had been better for him. Promises should be kept. Govt should not make promises they don’t intend to keep. Not being appreciated does not feel good.RIP. Rasheed

  2. Tynabrandii

    May 7, 2012 at 9:15 am

    Rest in Peace!!!!

  3. Falcon

    May 7, 2012 at 9:25 am

    This life sha…just sad to see how an international sports figure is laid to rest. Wow. So all the commissioners rolled in to bury him but when he was roaming the streets of ibadan aimlessly, they were driving past him in their convoy and mopols …turning the other cheek. It is well

    • pa seya

      July 24, 2016 at 6:50 pm

      This is human nature. Allah knows best. May his soul rest in peace

  4. sugaplum

    May 7, 2012 at 9:48 am

    Hope these promises will be fulfilled. Rest in peace, rashidi.

  5. Tope

    May 7, 2012 at 9:52 am

    Why s t lik dis n dz country after serving nigerian 4 so meny years he stil get nothng n return dz s d reason whY nig football team s lik,wl wen ever i see our team playing rubbish i dnt blam them bcuz i knw wot they ar up 2..bad government of 9ija

  6. Latmus

    May 7, 2012 at 9:55 am

    Oh! D dealth is very severe!it was so sad bin heard d dealth of nigeria football hero,rasidi yekini.it was a great lost to nigeria d family should accept my sincere condolence and hearth felt concern.may his soul rest in peace

    • Nike

      May 7, 2012 at 12:59 pm

      When did “death” have an “L” in it? Why is it that Nigerians like to change the spelling of words all the time? Is this how you learnt to spell death in school???

    • Labelle

      May 7, 2012 at 8:50 pm

      You’re absolutely right @Nike. These are some of the bad eggs who give Nigeria a bad name. If you are not sure of a spelling why not ask someone to help you or better still, dont post a comment. It’s a complete shame. Most Nigerians can neither write nor be read. RIP Rasheed, mental health problems is a slow but sure killer if left untreated. Its a shame

    • Falcon

      May 7, 2012 at 3:20 pm

      Why do I have a very solid feeling that you your ” l” factor is real and that you alctually spealk like thils? Lmao.

    • storm

      May 9, 2012 at 4:07 pm

      LoL. what is this?

  7. Esther

    May 7, 2012 at 10:00 am

    rest in peace.

  8. LUCY

    May 7, 2012 at 10:04 am

    what a cruel world we live! may his gentle soul rest in peace

  9. Onyinye

    May 7, 2012 at 10:04 am

    At the end of the day, Nothing to say thank u for the sacrifices… It is a shame for a hero to die like a beggar… RIP

  10. LUCY

    May 7, 2012 at 10:09 am

    while donate money to the family now that he is dead? wonder when our people will learn when to do the right thing.

  11. Alero

    May 7, 2012 at 10:11 am

    my heart weeps for him.RIP great man!

  12. Oluwayemisi ayo

    May 7, 2012 at 10:13 am

    This is really sad. Only one player right Now can afford to pay for his treatment….but none came to his aid. Mental illness is another problem Africa needs to take seriously. In the states, it’s a major factor in most cases! May his soul rest in peace.

  13. Harmony

    May 7, 2012 at 10:16 am

    Rest in Peace, Yekini!

  14. sk

    May 7, 2012 at 10:23 am

    This is a country where the best just waste away. Its just so pathetic, see the way and manner he was buried, he should have been buried with national honours

  15. Chewunski

    May 7, 2012 at 10:23 am

    So sad. May his Soul R.I.P Only if Nigeria and Nigerians can honour their heros when they are alive

  16. Adeyinminu omolara

    May 7, 2012 at 10:26 am

    Nigerian government is cruel, only use you when you are able but at the instance of any problem they no you not this is why no body want’s want to serve Nigeria in a way that will help the nation that almost every body want to take what they think it’s their’s and their turn.(Ta ba rese were taba fi se ogun ologbon wo lo ma gbe ti e sile) Rashidi yekini, what a great lost to the nation (sun re laya olugbala)

  17. social.

    May 7, 2012 at 10:36 am

    bad government,bad country.wat a rubish.

  18. okodoro oro

    May 7, 2012 at 11:05 am

    No wonder why d likes of Ayeigbeni, Osaze, Mikel and odas Nigeria professional footballers dnt alwaz giv their best weneva dey were on d field of play, then, we started blaming n cursing dem. Tel me, dis people calls politicians or lets say govrnment were not there wen d medias were clamouring for rehabilitation of dis icon’s health? Imagine dem donating millions 4 d dead legend? Tel me wot is encouraging in dis country dat makes it worth dieing for? Shame on nigeria!! How much is d money Rashidi Yekini wud’ve lost to d lost of his confidant dat d govt is not capable of reimbusing compared 2 wot Nigeria made 2ru dis man? D spirit of d noble man wil ask dos people who were in d position 2 help dis man wen he was ill but did not did so.. Amen

  19. ADENIY OMOLAYO ELIJAH-OSHO

    May 7, 2012 at 11:16 am

    R.I.P. AND GOD WILL GUIDE THEM

  20. Ginika

    May 7, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    R.I.P. Yekini.

    Apart from the Mental illness, what else might have caused him to die? Could it have been treated?

  21. lily

    May 7, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    I believe he died from depression and not mental illness.Nigerians have to be aware of the silent killer “depression”…..it has resulted to so many untimely death than one can imagine. RIP Yekini.

    • Labelle

      May 7, 2012 at 8:58 pm

      @Lily Depression is mental illness

  22. IRepNaija

    May 7, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    May his soul RIP.

    BN: “…died in his hometown, Irra, Oyun local government in Kwara State… He died in a private hospital in Ibadan (Oyo state).” That’s inconsistent.

    • Shal

      May 7, 2012 at 8:43 pm

      I agree with you – I also noticed the error. So then where did he die? Or did he die in both places?

      Anyway it is so sad that the young man is late. May his soul rest in peace.

  23. brutal

    May 7, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    You know, I look at the burial pictures and my heart weeps for him. How can an international football star be buried in a piece of shabby box? The background of the house he was laid in is nothing to write home about. Even legends who are druggies in the US get better burials than this. Change is far far away from our country

    • OmogeNaija

      May 8, 2012 at 10:06 am

      Brutal, he was buried according to Islamic rites, did you see how YarAdua was buried? Muslims are either wrapped with a white cloth or the local mat. I’m not sure that box will even go down there with him

  24. Alex okunloye

    May 7, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    I wept……….!What a great hero is RASHEED YEKINN? un un ADIU.This country nawao shameless Gov.& is people, when he was alive, no recogntn from Fd gov. & St gov. Now his gone they are donating & mourning him. His spirit will ask our leaders wat they‘ve done 4 him 4 his contributions for dis country. (ljo aba ku ladere)sunre o adiu.

  25. Temitope

    May 7, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    RIP Rasheed Yekini.But this is a great lesson for all to learn from,we should never let the sweet praises or bitter condemnation of men be the source of our joy.We should make up our minds to be the source of our own joy,we should stay joyful no matter what we face,see,hear or feel.

  26. Boladale

    May 7, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    May his soul rest in peace, and the Almighty Allah console the mother and children left behind. Is the same people that killed him that are singing praises of him, after all they did to him during World Cup. Rasheed rest in peace.

  27. Bea

    May 7, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    Which is it? He died in Irra or Ibadan? Proofread your article before posting please!

  28. fokasibe

    May 7, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    Rest in Peace Rashidi Yekini! Fare thee well!

  29. aderonke

    May 7, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    RIP Rashidi Yekini! So painful.

  30. faith

    May 7, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    temitope i like your comment…may his soul rest!

  31. Jacqueline

    May 7, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    Few things are worse than mental torture in this life. I hate to imagine all that he suffered. It’s bad enough that he was swindled by a trusted business partner and on top of that under-appreciated by his country and government. I have however learned from all of this never to suffer in silence or live the lonely life of a recluse. Sad indeed.

  32. Ada Chika

    May 7, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    What a sad end!

    Rashidi Yekini – who if nothing else representd Nigeria at its most competitive best.

    According to Street journal magazine this guy’s family were the only ones accusing him of mental illness and his neighbours in Ibadan said he was not. The evidences they gave were as follows;
    1 – Yekini regularly jugged at the stadium in the mornings to keep fit – sometimes alone and sometimes with other athlethes especially fottball club athlethes.
    2 – Although he sacked his security several months ago he was still fit enough to open the gate of his property, drive out his car and lock the gate again. Fit enough to reply back to those who proferred greetings or hailed him. Fit enough to drive.
    3 – Yekini was known to be very generous and regularly gave out money to people. Reports about that he gave stuffed envelopes to the poor that lives aroundhim or in his proximity.
    4 – Yekeni was a quiet man who craved solitude especially from his family.
    5 – Reported that his family members who knew he would not open the gate to them as they knocked on it – hung around his neighbourhood awaiting his opening the gate. On Yekini’s regular ritual of opening the gate before proceeding to drive though his family members accosted him, chained him, and took him away. As he was led away Yekini was heard shouting to his neighbours not to let his family take him away.
    Neighbours say that was the last they saw of Yekini alive.

    SO THE QUESTION IS – WHAT DID HIS FAMILY DO TO HIM WHEN THEY TOOK HIM AWAY?

    This ex-wife (mother to his daughter) was married to the man but apparently came back seperately from her husband (after the honeymoon) and on his return he threw her out of the matrimonial home.
    Yes things happen between couples but before anyone believes the diatribe now spewed forth from his ex-wife and family care must be taken to read between the lines of their sobs and rehearsed lamentations.

    Nigeria has lost somebody great. Yekini Should be remembered not as a mad man or mental patient but as a hero. Misunderstood because of his great love for his own company and solitude – but MAD NO!
    I URGE PEOPLE ON THIS FORUM NOT TO DIGEST THE NEWS OF HIS MENTAL STATE BEING QUESTIONABLE. IT IS NOT A SIN TO PREFER YOU COMPANY OR KEEP TO YOURSELF. GOD KNOWS I SPEAK FROM EXPERIENCE AS A PERSON WHO HURT HAS CAUSED TO KEEP TO HERSELF!

    Adieu Yekini- REST IN PEACE NOW WITH NO FAMILY MEMBERS TO CART YOU OFF AGAINSE YOUR WISHES!

  33. kemi

    May 7, 2012 at 7:42 pm

    I know Bella naija will not post this but

    I am not proud to be a Nigerian, our country is so useless. How can a hero be treated like this …Nigeria, you are shameless country, I hate you!

    • D Man Magnet

      May 10, 2012 at 12:19 pm

      i second this. its just too sad. RIP great man

  34. hephzibah

    May 7, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    What does it matter where he died? Point is the Legend is gone! And in such an undignified way. The ‘tales’ from ex-wife o, mum o, and Oliseh all bring to mind Tolu Ogunlesi’s article on Ynaija -Connecting the dot-. We see the signs, but ignore them, and when the milk has been spilled, suddenly everyone is an analyst and wanna-be-solution-provider. Mscheew. RIP Rashidi. You gave me (as a little girl) fond memories of Super Eagles.

  35. BN Lover

    May 8, 2012 at 3:55 am

    It’s so sad. Kai! Really sad

  36. Hon Bamdele Opeyemi Hopero

    May 8, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    May His Gentle Soul Rest in Perfect Peace……………………………..what a grat lose to the country as a whole…….we love him but God loved him most

  37. Mohammed Adelani

    May 8, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    What is hidden to man is opened to GOD ALHIGHTY. Rasheed Yeking death posed so many queestion that only the deceased alone can answer. One wish the dead can talk, but… All the promises and crocodile tears humnmnmnmn…Rest in Peace Rashidi….

  38. Gentry

    May 8, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    @ Nike and Labelle why are u so particular about mistake someone made, why not particular in the comet he/she has made @ least Latma has said something meaningful to the context while both of you are talking about Grammar, Rest In Peace Baba Yekini

  39. tatafo!

    May 9, 2012 at 6:06 am

    Wow this is very sad. RIP Yekini

  40. Diyaolu Oladipo

    May 9, 2012 at 10:42 am

    Its so so sad. I cant just believe YEKING is gone and gone forever.
    May his soul rest in peace.
    Its time for our government to have change of attitude to Nationals who have served the Nation relentlessly in the past in other to encourage the younger once.

  41. best ecig

    May 9, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    You really make it seem really easy together with
    your presentation however I to find this topic to be really one thing which I believe I
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  42. SALAM

    May 9, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    Well, to God be the glory, it is better he die rather than being mad has claimed, death is bether than a painfull shame “an hero tied in chain” hum you all blame govt all the time, why wasting time in doing this , it is govt. custom. Why were the promises of just last year by our president? is it too late or soon to be forgotten or are we not witnessing other strange things from them now? Rasheed RIP.

  43. Austin Okolo

    May 9, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    Baba na baba,d goals father ,d goals merchant.Rashidi was,is d best top striker dis nation ‘ll ever be blessed wit 4 a long time to come,may his soul rest in perfect peace.

  44. Patrick Tagbo Oguejiofor

    May 9, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    I do not blame govt for Yekini’s death. Friends and relatives failed when Yekini needed help most. Becoming a recluse and soloquising could be symptoms of mental ill-health. The family ought to have attended to him much earlier. Now its too late to trade blames.

  45. Togbese Benjamin.

    May 9, 2012 at 6:04 pm

    rest in peace Yekini, a great hero that can never be forgotten by all football lovers in Nigeria. you brought lots of happiness to our heart in your playing days for the country. people have said a lot but God knows best.

  46. TOURE MOUSTAPHA

    May 9, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    Rest in peace my brother .

  47. musa dan'azumi

    May 12, 2012 at 12:46 am

    may ur soul R I P..Rashidi yekini….9ja football legent…..

  48. Mohammed Shimodo

    May 14, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    REST IN PERFECT PEACE AMEEN

  49. Chegzini

    May 14, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    Look at the N200 ball placed beside the legendary Rashidi Yekini, the man who took us to our first and best World Cup ever, even scoring our first world cup goal, this is a disgrace to Nigeria Football Federation, bunch of thieves and illiterates, too bad! Naija we hail thee! Rest in Peace, Rashidi Yekini, you’re always on our mind!

  50. abdul

    May 15, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    ho God all this government that they are donating money now, who ask them 2 donate the money, bcoz they refuse 2 do the rite thing at the rite time, ho 9ja is unfair.well some 1 dat has gone has gone, is just need only one tin now which is prayer, may your rest in perfect peace Amin

  51. EMMANUEL NWAJESUS

    May 17, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    nigerian leaders should learn on how to celebrate hero who have given their father land there best. it has being discovered that our heroes die like any other ordinary man out there. Nigerian leaders learn

  52. Tunde

    May 20, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    IT’S SO SAD TO HEAR YOUR GONE . REST IN PERFECT PEACE AMEEN

  53. Harry

    May 23, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    I hope you will all see to the reason why our Super Eagles don’t perform well in our National Team, rather in their club sites, what a big shame to our Government for not taking care of this people. NOW WITH THIS HOW WILL ONE WANT TO FIGHT FOR HIS COUNTRY WITH THE WHOLE OF HIS HEART, while at the end nothing to be remembered for? “Tufiakwa”

  54. bea

    June 28, 2012 at 7:01 am

    What an hero, you’ll be remembered for your great sacrifice you offered to Nigerian sport, and to the people who knew you so well. I wish the Nigerian govt, and other footballers collegues contributed to fly you abroad for some treatments, perhaps you could still be alive, well you are resting peacefully than you ever did when this problem started.

    May your soul rest in perfect peace Amen.

  55. Adams

    October 28, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    Rasheed was a great man, why NFF did not take responsibility of his funeral arrangements?.so sad & this gona be a precedent for the other former international players.MHSRIP

  56. Jovita

    February 3, 2014 at 1:30 am

    Shame on Nigerian government, shame on you.

  57. olusesan

    July 9, 2015 at 7:44 pm

    Rasheed Yekini, Rip

  58. azees

    August 25, 2016 at 6:39 am

    so sad *tears

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