Omoyemi is one of the daughters of the late Super Eagles striker, Rashidi Yekini. She talks about her father’s life and career.
Tell us about yourself.
I am a 200 level English undergraduate student of the University of Ilorin, Kwara State. I had my primary and secondary education in Osun State.
How was it growing up with your father, the late Rashidi Yekini?
It was spectacular; I always tell whoever cares to listen that he was the best dad. I could not have asked God for a better dad.
Did he spoil you as a child with gifts?
Yes, in fact, I was so comfortable; I never lacked anything. He was a wonderful father. He used to go shopping for me. He frequently took me out. My father ensured I had everything I needed.
What fond memories do you have of him while growing up?
I have so many fond memories. If I begin to recount some of them, I would spend the whole day. He was such a special father; every day with him was memorable. I still remember him taking me along for his football trainings; I loved spending time with him. Whenever I was on holiday, he ensured I never left his sight.
How did you feel having a footballer as a dad?
I was quite young then, so I didn’t really understand the fame that came with having a famous footballer as a dad. I also didn’t understand how much people valued him. I began to understand things as I grew older.
Has his name opened doors for you?
I would say no, probably because I live a normal life. Many people don’t believe me whenever I tell them I am Rashidi Yekini’s daughter. I don’t go around flaunting his name. I try as much as possible to live a normal life.
Are you saying you haven’t enjoyed special privileges despite the weight of the name ‘Yekini’?
No I haven’t. If I need anything, I go to my mother and my father’s lawyer, Jubril Mohamed, whom I call ‘lawyer Jubril.’ They provide all my needs. So, yes, his name hasn’t opened doors for me, not even for my sister. However, people are usually surprised whenever they hear my surname. But I rarely mention to people that I’m Yekini’s daughter.
Do people still show you love and respect because you are Rashidi Yekini’s daughter?
To an extent, they still do. I once met someone who works at Lagos Television; he is a sports presenter. We met during an interview; and he has been so nice to me.
When did he discover his passion for football?
I learned his passion for football began when he was just four years old; he was based in Kaduna State at the time.
What were the challenges he faced in his career?
I don’t think he faced challenges probably because he lived a quiet life. He never liked publicity or showing off. I learned that before he died, he was offered the job of a coach which he turned down because he desired to live a simple life.
Your dad achieved a lot for himself in his career, what was his driving force?
I think his strong passion and love for football was his driving force.
He was often described as a rich man, what is your view on that?
I can say he was very comfortable. While I was growing up, he gave me more than what I needed. His lifestyle didn’t depict one that was poor.
How did he like to relax?
He liked to hang out at Sabo, Ibadan, with few of his friends; though he didn’t have a lot of friends. My father was on the quiet side, he wasn’t one that liked making friends.
What was the most important advice he gave you?
I can’t recall any because I was quite young when I used to spend my holidays with him. But I learned from his behaviour with people. I remember the time I went to a neighbour’s house without informing him and he got upset. He was the kind of person that preferred staying indoors; he encouraged me to follow suit. He said I should not go where I was not wanted. I also learned from his philanthropic lifestyle – he loved to give out alms to the less privileged.
How close were you to him?
We had a good father-daughter relationship; he was a great dad.
How did he discipline any child who erred?
He preferred to correct the child verbally. He would express his feelings to that child and forget the matter. He never disciplined us with the cane.
Aside from football, what were his other hobbies?
He loved to watch television – Cartoon Network in particular; he was a big fan of the cable channel. He also liked to watch Yoruba movies.
Was he an overprotective father?
No, he only cared a lot for his children.
Did he enjoy watching football matches he featured in?
I never saw him watch his own football matches; I know he liked to watch foreign football or Nigerian football matches.
Is there anything he would have loved to change about himself?
I don’t know if he would have loved to change anything about himself, but what I would have loved to change in him was his temperament – he got easily angered. I would have loved for him to remain calm in testy situations.
Is there anything he frequently spent money on?
He never hesitated for a second in giving out money to people. He also loved to spend on my sister and I. Whenever I visited him during my school holidays; he ensured he bought me all what I needed for school. I think he also liked buying sports accessories.
Did he make out time to visit you in school?
He visited me twice in school – the first time was when I was in primary four; he came with my grandmother. I was surprised to see him. The second time was when I was in primary five.
Who was his best friend?
I think that would be his lawyer; they used to talk frequently.
If he were alive, what would he want Nigerians to know about him?
He would want people to know that he was normal and that he didn’t have a mental disorder. He wasn’t ‘crazy’ before he died, as some people claimed. He would have loved it if people treated him like a normal person. He would also have wanted people to appreciate him for his great impact in Nigerian football history.
How does your family remember him annually during his birthday?
Very few people know his birthday (October 23), but we see it as a normal day, only that we reminisce on who he was and how old he would have turned on that day.
What were his last words to you before he passed on?
I was not with him when he died. But prior to his death, my grandmother and I went to visit him at Ibadan. I was at my grandmother’s house when I heard the news about his death.
How is your grandmother’s health now?
My mother is the one who knows more about her welfare. But I believe she is doing fine.
There were reports that thorough investigation would be carried out on how your father died; are you aware of this?
Honestly, I’m not interested in any investigation, but I’ve not heard anything about that. The fact that he is dead is hard to take. I would want to know how he died, but what would I gain from it? It would not bring back my dad; he is gone.
Has the Nigerian government finally redeemed their promise on the house they promised your dad?
This is the first time I am hearing such; I never knew about that promise. Maybe my father’s lawyer would know about. But I know nothing about any house.
Kwara State Commissioner for Information and Communication, Mr. Tunji Moronfoye, who was at your father’s burial pledged that government would do something to assist your family. He announced a donation of N1.5m to support the late Yekini’s family. Has that been fulfilled?
(Laughs) I’ve learned that government says things or makes promises they don’t fulfill. My father’s lawyer may know about it though.
I’ve learnt to flow with the system of governance in Nigeria. Even if they make promises and don’t fulfil their promises, my family is not affected. I have my mother and so many people to take care of me. My family is doing very well; we have no plans to live or fend off people’s money. We are not bothered.
Do you think the Federal Government is yet to recognise your father’s impact in Nigerian football history?
Yes, I think so. My mother also feels that way. But as the saying goes, beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. That saying can be applied to my father’s case. It is only those who have you in heart that value you. But anything should be expected, I’ve learned to appreciate the little people do. Patience is everything, maybe the Nigerian government is taking its time.
No Nigerian footballer is yet to break your father’s record in terms of number of goals scored for the Super Eagles, how do you feel about that?
Everyone has their time to shine.
Before passing on, did your father express his disappointment with the Nigerian government?
My father was not disappointed because he did not expect anything from anyone. He appreciated the little he got. He accepted what he had, and he was comfortable with his life.
Do you think a befitting sporting monument should have been named after him?
Yes, but we live in Nigeria, with time things will take shape.
There are several rumours following your father’s death. What would you want Nigerians to know about how he died?
A section of the media publishes some things that are untrue. But what I want is for the dead to rest; rumours and stories won’t bring back my dad. What matters to me is how he is remembered, not how he died. I know it matters for us to know how he died, but he is dead. We should remember him in the best way we can and move on with our lives. However, I want Nigerians to know that my father was never mentally challenged prior to his death.
Do you think his friends neglected him during his last days?
I never knew him to have a lot of friends. I only knew someone we call ‘uncle Tobi and two other persons. But he wasn’t very close to them. I don’t think they neglected him, but I feel maybe when they should have checked up on him, they didn’t. It means a lot for people to check up on you and show that they care about you.
There are also reports that he lived alone prior to his death, why was this so?
He liked to be alone; he didn’t have problems living with people though. He had a reserved nature; he loved to have his space to himself. He wasn’t a socialite.
When you read all that was written about your father after his death, how do you feel?
I don’t even think about them, I know all that was written about him was a lie and they were irrelevant. I know who my father was; I don’t believe the false reports written about him.
How has your family being coping since his death?
Life has been good.
Can you describe him in three words?
He was my all in all; I can’t use words to describe him – words can’t measure the love I have for him.
What do you miss about him?
I miss so many things; I could go and on about all I miss about him. Words can’t explain how much love I had for him. He was a great dad; having him around made my day.
Would you like to marry someone like your father?
Definitely, why shouldn’t I? He was someone one could actually pray to God for. I would love to marry a man like him.
Did he frequently advice you on your relationship with opposite sex?
No, we never had that discussion. But I’m sure he would have had such discussion with my older sister.
What was his favourite food?
Bread and tea; he had only one place he bought bread. He also liked plantain.
What type of music did he enjoy?
He enjoyed listening to Koffi Olumide and Dr. Sikiru Ayinde Barrister. He loved to listen to music every Sunday mornings.
What were his likes and dislikes?
He liked one being honest and tender-hearted. He disliked it if one lied to him; he also liked people that are God-fearing.
Who among his children is showing interest in football?
Neither my sister nor I have a passion for football. I would like to be a presenter; my sister is into cinematography. – Culled from Punch.