MFM FC attacker Sikiru Olatunbosun has distanced himself from being dubbed the new Rashidi Yekini – saying he still has a long way to go to achieve Yekini’s feat.

The late Rashidi Yekini is Nigeria’s all time record scorer with 37 goals in 58 appearances.

An in an exclusive interview with Punch, Olatunbosun, who came into limelight following his goal against Rangers that was nominated for the 2017 Puskas Award said football fans were the ones drawing comparison between him and Rashidi Yekini, but distanced himself from such comparison.

The power-playing forward noted that he would prefer to play like himself and not anybody else.

“I have never drawn a comparison between me and the late Yekini, who is a football legend in Nigeria,” Olatunbosun said.

I believe that fans and those who watch the way a player plays are the ones who can liken you to a senior footballer in terms of style of play. I know I am a power-playing forward because I like to take on defenders and play a lot of shots, but I don’t think I am close to what I know of the late Yekini.

“I can say I am not the new Yekini because I still have a long way to go and I also have a lot to learn to reach that level.

 “I will say I play like myself and not like anyone else.”

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Rashidi Yekini visited me on Wednesday – Segun Odegbami

Olatubosun, who formed a great partnership in the 2017 season with the duo of Onuwa and Stephen Odey submitted that he was missing the latter.

Stephen Odey bagged 23 goals in 42 appearances for MFM FC before joining Swiss side FC Zurich towards the end of the 2017 season.

Olatunbosun confessed that he missed the partnership with Odey, but noted that Odey’s departure had nothing to do with the club poor scoring this season.

“If I say I didn’t miss Odey, I would be lying.Our partnership was wonderful.

“But I wouldn’t say it has affected the club’s goals scoring because we have other players scoring the goals. Forming a partnership with a player takes time and when it clicks, the product will be seen in the goals being scored.

“No player will stay at a club forever. Odey has left but I and Onuwa are still there and we are working more on getting the goals,” he added.

 

 

 

 

 

Published in Awa Football

By Segun Odegbami

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.

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Rashidi Yekini Visited me - Segun Odegbami  

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.

(Guardian ng)

Published in Awa Football

The Mathematician said the late Rashidi Yekini visited him last Wednesday

20 children will never play for 20 years but no matter what, memories will always be there to savour irrespective of the number of years.

Segun Odegbami, the mathematician has fondly called, has put up a post on how the Late Rashidi Yekini visited him in his office last Wednesday.

As quoted by nigeriafilms.com, Odegbami wrote, “I had an extraordinary encounter with Rashidi Yekini today in my office. When I arrived home a few minutes ago I saw a posting about Rashidi again on FB by someone lamenting how Nigerians have forgotten the gangly one. Then it crossed my mind that the FB posting I stumbled on was a call for me to tell Nigerians about my beautiful encounter with the great Yekini.

“I have just moved into a new office. I am trying to resurrect my studios that have been ‘dead’ for over a decade. My machines and equipment are obsolete and the parts cannot be found anywhere in the world. We have searched the internet and some 6 years ago I managed to buy some old but working machines from Pakistan that also packed up soon after. So I have been left frustrated with archival materials that cannot be transferred and seen again. Or so I thought until a few days ago.

“Kunle Oladeinde, my friend and colleague in the media business, called and told me he had found a man that can fix my old machines. To cut a long story short, the man turns out to come from my village of Wasimi. He is a retired engineer who knew me very well and we had known each other without knowing that we would need each other for something special that has now turned out to be a divine intervention. He came to my office some 6 or so days ago, took one look at all my dead machines and equipment and told me he could fix them all.

“It has been 7 (seven) days or so since we reconnected but this morning the miracle happened. 3 different dead machines were miraculously revived by this genius from Wasimi. He is working on the rest. When I went to check up on him this afternoon in the studio he was watching an interview of Rashidi Yekini that I did with him some 25 years ago on the eve of the final match against Algeria that qualified Nigeria for her first World Cup. I was mesmerized because I could not remember I did any such interview. It was just between the two of us alone in a hotel room or so. It was the longest and the most detailed interview of Rashidi l ever saw up to that point in his life.

“Rashidi hated to grant interviews so there is not much you will find anywhere. But here he tells me about his early life, his journey through the game from Nigeria to Cote d’Ivoire and to Europe, his mentors, his family, and his hopes for the future, all in unbelievable beautiful fluid English! It is an incredible piece of history. Until now I did not know what to do with it, but seeing this post on FB is the response I needed.

“I shall clean it up and put it out there for all to see and hear from Rashidi Yekini himself…a full 25 minutes of him telling me his own story. Watch out for it soon through a medium I shall let everyone know.”

 

 

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Published in Awa Football