A new Yekini is born
Since he emerged as one of the best in the history of the country, every time a new talent stands out, comparisons with Rashidi Yekini immediately jump out, but none has been able to fill the void left behind by the legendary striker.
Nigeria’s all-time top scorer, and arguably the greatest striker the country has ever produced, Yekini bagged 37 goals across 58 appearances between the mid 80s and the late 90s.
He was part of the Super Eagles’ Golden Generation, winning the Nations Cup in 1994 where he also emerged as the tournament’s top scorer with five goals, and unforgettably scored Nigeria’s first-ever World Cup goal—against Bulgaria later that year.
The African Footballer of the Year in 1993.
While it seems no player would be able to match the late striker, going by his style of play and statistics, it seems a new Yekini has been born and that is Napoli’s forward Victor Osimhen.
Osimhen in 2020, a 21-year-old as at the time, said he wasn’t sure if he could fill the shoes of the legendary striker.
“I’ve always said for me to fill in the shoes of a legend, the late Rashidi Yekini is kind of heavy for me but I think I’m on the right path towards this direction,” Osimhen said.
“If I’m injury-free I can achieve this but it’s never going to be easy and of course with the confidence, the coach has in me and the fans also support me I think it’s achievable.
“For now I want to keep on helping the team, keep on doing well with my club and I’m really looking forward to achieving this feat but it’s never going to be easy.
“Compared to what he has done for the national team and he’s made a name for himself all over the world, it’s a huge step for me. By the special grace of God, I’m going to achieve this feat and also pass it”.
Fast forward to 2023, the Napoli striker may want to reconsider his assertion.
Both players have a lot in common more than anyone could have imagined. Osimhen though is almost as fast as Segun Odegbami, another great player, but he is more Yekini than Odegbami looking at his style of play.
While Odegbami and other Eagles’ forward could operate from the wings, Osimhen and Yekini are outright strikers with eyes for goals.
The duo is also almost similar regarding their heights though the late former Shooting Star forward is a few inches taller than the Napoli forward.
While late Yekini had a height of 1,90m, Osimhen has a height of 1.86m.
Interestingly both players scored 15 goals in their first 23 games for the Eagles.
Yekini almost scored what could have been one of the best goals in the history of AFCON against Egypt when he chested a pass and volleyed the ball but could only hit the crossbar.
There was a replica of that play by Osimhen against Roma in February, but the young striker was even better as he hit the target.
The former Lill forward brilliantly chested down Khvicha Kvaratskhelia’s cross and took another touch with his thigh before lashing in without the ball touching the floor, a goal that won the award for the best goal of the month in Serie A and could compete for the best goal of the season.
Osimhen has enjoyed a searing start to his Nigeria career, particularly considering he missed the Nations Cup, and still only 24, he looks well placed to climb to the pinnacle of this list over the coming decade and could well fill the void left behind by Yekini.