Nigeria’s record goal scorer Rashidi Yekini made his Super Eagles bow as a 21-year-old in 1984.
Fifty-Eight international matches down the line he scored 37 goals, helping Nigeria win the Africa Cup of Nations in 1994 and also qualify for World Cup in the same year.
The “gangling striker” quit International football after another World Cup appearance in 1998, but he also left an indelible mark.
Yekini was A list, but far from a personality stuck in the little glamour of that time.
Fashionable or not, his career and goals were a beautiful as was the standard set.
He retired from International football in 1998, and many exciting forwards have worn that iconic number 9 jersey or led the attack but 37 remains the number to beat.
Record of Nigeria’s top scorers [Per Wikipedia] :
Yakubu Aiyegbeni came the closest to supplanting Yekini’s goal record. He scored 21 goals in 58 caps as well until his retirement in 2010.
Aiyegbeni was one goal short of equalling the record of Segun Odegbami, the second all-time top scorer ( 22 ) in the green and white.
The Yak as he was later, famously called, started his international journey at age 18 and had a better goal scoring ratio (0.36) compared to Rashidi Yekini (0.64).
All those numbers makes the invitation of 19-year-old Henry Onyekuru to the Super Eagles a tantalizing thought.
Playing in his first season in Europe, the KAS Eupen striker has slammed in an impressive 25 goals; the most by any Nigerian player in mainstream Europe in the 2016/17 season.
Onyekuru did not play for any Nigerian national team nor did he play professionally in the country prior his move to the Jupiler League.
Born in Onitsha, little is known about his journey, but it was surely not as smooth as his goal scoring abilities.
He needed to hon his talents with the Aspire Academy for five years before venturing abroad.
The player was handed a national team call up; his first, after one-capped Olanrewaju Kayode, painfully, opted to skip a training camp coming up in France on 22 May for his club’s sake.
Playing in his first season in Europe, the KAS Eupen striker has slammed in an impressive 25 goals; the most by any Nigerian player in mainstream Europe.
Nigeria is scheduled to face Corsica (non-FIFA member) and Togo in friendlies ahead of the 2019 Afcon qualifier against South Africa in June.
Everton, Southampton & West Brom are interested in signing Nigerian striker Henry Onyekuru from KAS Eupen. pic.twitter.com/VgY9I14wry
— Oluwashina Okeleji (@oluwashina) May 18, 2017
Olanrewaju tied to Austria Wien, who are seeking a Europa League spot, was excused by Technical Adviser Gernot Rohr, thus the option of Onyekuru, who had become the toast of the Nigerian media for his goalscoring exploits.
Though he invited nine forwards – Kelechi Iheanacho, Isaac Success, Ahmed Musa, Victor Osimhen, Noah Bazee, Moses Simon, Stephen Odey and Sikiru Olatubosun – for the camp, Rohr has only five natural strikers (Onyekuru inclusive) to pick from.
While Onyekuru may not start, he’s sure to get his chance, but is he the player to break Rashidi Yekini’s goal record?