This is the second and final part of my conversation with Rashidi Yekini that took place some 25 years ago, but is being published for the first time, at his ‘insistence’, following an extra-ordinary series of circumstances that left me bemused and excited at the same time.I have taken the liberty to slightly edit some of his words for better reading and understanding. Enjoy it for whatever it is worth.
“It is not that I am after money, but I want security and insurance for my life. So, the team in Portugal says I will not leave, that I have to play a second year in the second division. But I told them ok, but they should buy good new players to help the team come back to the first division. But they did not do that. So, with the players that were available, the club finished in fourth position that year. So, they could not make it.
My contract finished. Then came the clearance problem for me to move to another club. My club said that anybody that wanted me has to pay One Million Dollars to get the clearance. There was a club that came from Turkey. They wanted me. They discussed and bargained to pay four hundred thousand Dollars. At that point my club changed their mind. They said they did not even want any money again. They wanted me to remain.
So, my President came from Cote d’Ivoire and said, ok, if they wanted to keep me they would have to sign a new two years’ contract, and increase my wages, but after that I would be a free agent, they will not ask for money again for my subsequent transfer. I then insisted that even my wages must be free of tax. They agreed. I signed. In the first year of that contract I was happy because the team came back to the first division.
When I started with them, whenever I was invited to the national team, they would not want me to go. They built the team around my head. Any time I left the team, they had problems. I had to tell them that my national team came first. Today in my life anything that I do for my country, if 100 million people can appreciate it, I will be very grateful.
So, I love to do something for my country, and then also for people like Segun Odegbami, Christian Chukwu. All these great players, the respect that I have for them, in particular, is because of what they achieved in the national team. So, that is why I am very happy, very glad to come and do something for my country.
Even my coach used to say, ‘Rashidi Yekini, you will come and train with your club here, and you will then go back and play for your country’. I used to respond that even Maradona and even Pele, we all know them for their achievement with their national teams, not their clubs. That is why I love to do something for my country.Now I am very happy that FIFA have also come out to support us. Any player that does not come when invited to his national team, they will suspend him from the playing for the club also.
The love the club gave to me, I did not believe in my life. Even the last match I played, after the game, I left the pitch naked. I could not believe it. Everything on me was removed by the fans. They took them as souvenirs. I am very happy and grateful to God.I am very grateful to the people who gave me advise. People like great Segun Odegbami, people like all the coaches I worked with.The problem I once had with my club Setubal is no longer a problem. I have to think twice. I have one more year to go in my contract, and after that I am totally free.After that if I have another offer I will think properly in order to have a good contract.
What I want to do is that if I have a very good offer in France, or Germany, or anywhere else, I will be very patient before I go to the club. If they can come directly and tell me that they want me, we will bargain. I will love that. But saying so in the newspapers that they want so and so player without coming to my front officially and discussing it I will not like that at all.So, if I have any good club offer today I am ready to leave so far as they can respect my own offer, everything that I want, and I will be ready to go.
I already have my fiancé now. I have no problem. Before I left the last time, we had a small quarrel because she is too jealous. I told her that I am a player, that I am a public figure, but that if she listens to people, she will kill me one day. That’s what I told her. She must calm down a little bit. If she does not, she will just kill me one day.Luckily, I am grateful to God now, she is mature enough. She is patient. That’s is why we came back again. Now, we have no problem.
I have not planned it, because her own family is waiting to see me. Because of this match ahead, I just came back to the country about two weeks ago. So, I have not got to them. I am just doing my own personal training, so that I will concentrate.I think after this match I will see the family. I may even first do the introduction. After maybe next year I can do the wedding.Whatever I want to do I have to inform you people. So, I cannot do anything without you people. But as for me, in my heart, she is my wife. I assure you that anything I am going to do again you have to know first. You have to give me the advice first, because as Yoruba people used to say, ‘eniyan laso mi’.
Advise To Aspiring Young African Players
My advice to African players who want to play in Europe is that I will want them to be patient and have very good managers, very good lawyers.If any club wants to buy you, if anybody has interest in you, let them come to your country to see your club, to see your management, your manager, and to discuss everything. Just don’t rush there.
Whatever they want to pay you let them come, and give you respect. That way you can have confidence. You can bargain better. If you want a car, they will give you. If you want a house, they will give you. Because like me in Portugal, I have a car, I have a house, I am not paying for all these”.