The Rashidi Yekini monologue – An exclusive conversation from beyond! – Part 1
This conversation took place some 24 years ago. It was never published in print. RASHIDI returned forcefully into my life last week in a most bizarre circumstance. I believe he wanted his memory to be kept alive. Hence this, transcribed and edited from a video recording lying idly in my archival library. Excerpts:
I started my football career in Kaduna.
That is the place I was born. When I started, my mother did not want me to play football. She was so afraid, but my father was not.
When I was young I started playing with older people. I had somebody called Ade, who, at the time, was also playing for UNTL. He advised me to come and to start training with UNTL FC at that time.
I was 16 or 17 around 1981. So, I joined him. Luckily I had nice coaches, Coach Jubril and Coach Sule.
Sule, who now coaches Kano Pillars, as well as the coach of UNTL, liked me. They wanted me to play the game.
I was a good player. Sometimes I played, sometimes I did not.
After that, I was contacted by a man, who came all the way from IICC, called Mr. Adegoke. People used to tell me about IICC having interest in us.
So, at that time they came for us.
We were very happy when he told us about IICC. I, with Kayode Aina, Shola Akinsola and Olu Kalejaiye were playing for UNTL. Another one of us was playing for Lead insurance. Daniel Abdullahi was already in IICC.
So, they told all four of us to come at that time. IICC wanted us to come and do some trials.
We were very happy to see you, Segun Odegbami.
We were not thinking of money at that time. Even if they told us about money, we were not interested. Seeing you and the opportunity to play with you made us happy.
So, we said we would stay for the trial, and IICC took us.
After that we went back to Kaduna to play for the qualifying series to the second division with UNTL.
After that we finally left and came to IICC.
Well, my experience in IICC, I was very, very happy. It was a great thing in my life because it was my first division One club at that time. This was one of the greatest clubs in Africa.
I was very happy to be there. And at that time, I had people like you on my side. I had a very great experience and I will not forget it in my life. So, what happened really was the way I left IICC. I was not happy.
The way a person like you also left IICC at that time, did not make me happy because, when I came to IICC I did not come to make millions. I came because of you and the love I had for IICC at that time. You, as a person, Segun Odegbami, is why I came at that time. The way you left the team did not make me happy.
That was when I went to Abiola Babes. When I wanted to go to Abiola Babes I met you, you gave me some advice because of the situation in the club at the time.
So, I left the club. I thought I should try Abiola Babes. You told me to go ahead, no problem. And I went to Abiola Babes.
So, my experience in Abiola Babes. I was very happy. I was very happy to work with MKO Abiola because he added something to my life.
At that time, we went there with a car loan, and he cleared it for us.
So, I was very happy to work with him. And then I also played with Best Ogedengbe and a lot of great players of that time. So, I was very happy there.
After that, anywhere I went to I was very happy. I used to get advice and ask from you before I did something.
When Abiola disbanded, ACB of Lagos and some other clubs said they wanted me to come, but I said no, and that I had not decided anything yet.
I did not have the idea of going to Abidjan at that time. I just joined the national team.
Luckily, I had the offer from Abidjan, African Sport FC. The president, President Zenzoe, called me to come and to join them.
I went there for a trial and I loved it. That was how I joined them there.
So, on getting there, I had a contract of one year, but the man said I should rip the contract apart, and that he was like my father, and that I should forget everything.
The man was a straight forward man. He was a great man, the way I met him. I was very happy. He was a very, very nice man. That is why I stayed there and played for him.
I had some problem because there was another club that wanted to buy me.
They wanted to give me more money. But all these didn’t affect me at the club because I respected the man a lot. He was a man of God, so I had to work with him.
After that I had an offer from St. Etienne in France. They wanted to take me as a feeder boy. But the president told them it was not possible, that if they wanted this player, they had better come and discuss it.
But the team were afraid of the money, or of the experience of the president. I was patient. I was not in a hurry. So, after that, the people from Setubal FC came.
They said they wanted me to sign a contract. I said okay, no problem.
They sat down with my president. We talked the thing out. Then I signed the contract.
Before I went there, my president told them they should respect everything in the paper we signed. So, they had to give me some money – the money I would use to arrange for my family, and everything else before I left for Portugal.
But when I got there, they didn’t give me the money quickly, and yet they didn’t say anything. So, I could not cope. I had to leave.
The Coach of the team did not want me to leave. So, I had to lie to the Coach that I wanted to bring my wife. I just told him that. I didn’t go back. The Coach was worried.
I told the management and I told my president that if they didn’t give me the money I asked for I would not go back because I needed the money to arrange my family, to give something to my mother, at least. So, my president told them, and they said they would do it.
So, that was why I didn’t go back and I returned to Nigeria. I stayed till around October that time but I had to go back to Europe in November.
So, when I got back the team was in very bad shape in the league table, so I had to struggle every day.
At that time, I played about 20 matches. I had 13 goals. It was not easy because in the team they had a lot of old players.
That apart, we had the problem of our captain and another player. They would always have a quarrel. The captain came from Porto, the other player played for Benfica. This one wanted to be captain, this one wanted to be captain.
Over there in Portugal, anytime Benfica and Porto played it was like in the days of IICC and Rangers. It was a problem for the team. Anytime we went to play, we had this problem of captaincy.
So, the team were relegated to division 2. I wanted to leave but the team said no.
So, I had to stay for two more years. It was a lesson I learnt.
The president gave me the advice that If there was any team that wanted me again, maybe even Barcelona, they had to come and discuss directly with me.