In a touching tribute to Nigerian football legend Rashidi Yekini, Google Doodle marked what would have been his 60th birthday. This gesture by the tech giant is part of its ongoing commitment to celebrate iconic figures, even in their absence. Born in Kaduna, northern Nigeria, Yekini came into the world on this very day in 1963.
The Google Doodle spotlighted Rashidi Yekini as an accomplished forward known as the “Goalsfather” for his extraordinary ability to slip shots past goalkeepers. Google’s statement, shared with Technext, read, “Today’s Doodle celebrates iconic Nigerian footballer Rashidi Yekini, an accomplished forward nicknamed the ‘Goalsfather’ for his ability to sneak shots by the keeper.”
The Doodle also paid homage to Yekini’s life journey, which began with hardship, homelessness, and poverty. He initially worked as a welder and mechanic to make ends meet, but his true passion lay in football. He was eventually spotted by scouts, leading to his entry into football with UNTL FC in Kaduna in 1981.
Yekini’s extraordinary talents brought him to the Shooting Stars, where he scored an impressive 45 goals in 53 games. This achievement earned him the title of African Footballer of the Year in 1983, making him the first Nigerian player to receive this prestigious honor. In the following year, he helped lead the Shooting Stars to the finals of the African Champions Cup.
Beyond Nigeria, Yekini played for various clubs in Spain, Tanzania, Saudi Arabia, Portugal, Tunisia, Switzerland, and Greece. During his tenure with a Portuguese team called Vitória Setúbal, he clinched the Bola de Prata (Silver Ball) for being the league’s top-scoring player in the 1993-94 season.
One of the most memorable moments in Yekini’s career was when he helped Nigeria’s national team, known as the Super Eagles, qualify for the 1994 World Cup. In a match against Bulgaria on June 21st, Yekini not only scored the first goal of the game but also marked Nigeria’s first-ever World Cup goal. His ecstatic celebration, where he rushed to the net, embracing it with both arms while crying tears of joy, is widely considered one of the most iconic goal celebrations in football history. This moment served as an inspiration for the Google Doodle artwork.
Rashidi Yekini continued to play for the Super Eagles for over 14 years, including another World Cup appearance in 1998. He scored an impressive 37 goals in 58 games for the Nigerian national team, a record that still stands today. Sadly, Yekini passed away on May 4, 2012, after a prolonged illness.
Other Posthumously Celebrated Nigerians Besides Rashidi Yekini
Apart from Rashidi Yekini, Google has also honored other notable Nigerians posthumously with Doodles. Notable figures include Nigerian music legend Oliver de Coque, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, Amaka Igwe, Buchi Emecheta, Christy-Essien Igbokwe, Stella Adadevoh, and Stephen Keshi, all of whom have left their indelible mark on Nigeria and the world. These commemorations through Google Doodles serve as a reminder of their significant contributions to Nigerian culture and history.