3 things Nigerians can’t forget about Aiyegbeni as he retires

Yakubu Aiyegbeni

Newly retired ex-Super Eagles forward, Yakubu Aiyegbeni, clocked 35 on Wednesday.

Aiyegbeni struck his way into the hearts of Nigerians with unbelievable performances, evidently in his impressive numbers.

With 21 goals in 57 appearances, The Yak, as he is fondly called, is his country’s third top scorer in history behind Rashidi Yekini and Segun Odegbami.

On top of that, he racked up 96 strikes in the Premier League – making him Nigeria’s best and only second to Didier Drogba on the continent in the history of the English top flight.

But nonetheless, he is still in the black book of many Nigerians for a number of reasons.

Here are three of such.

1 – 2010 World Cup open goal miss

The Super Eagles were in a make or break clash with South Korea in their last group game at the 2010 World Cup. Anything other than victory will end the country’s sojourn in South Africa. And out of nowhere, an opportunity sprung forth to none other but Aiyegbeni, who at that time was Eagles most-inform striker. All he needed to do was a simple tap-in just three metres away from goal. But dismally he missed. Though he scored later from the spot, it was not enough as the game ended 2-2.

2 – Dismissal from AFCON 2004

Nigerians were very much expectant at the 2004 edition of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON). That’s unsurprising owing to the team’s perfect blend of youth and experience. Jay-Jay Okocha and Nwankwo Kanu represented the first, while, Aiyegbeni, John Utaka and the likes stood for the latter. But the country’s hopes for a third title faded away after the then-Portsmouth star alongside Celestine Babayaro and Victor Agali were sent home for indiscipline. The trio played just one game before their exits with Nigeria ultimately settling for third.

3 – Turned back on Nigeria in 2006

Aiyegbeni had the world at his feet in 2006. He was banging on the goals with reckless abandon for Middlesbrough with several scouts watching with keen interest. He was influential as the English side reached the Europa League final that year. Nigerians were thrilled with his progress but wasted little time clamping on him as soon as he muttered intentions not to play at the 2006 AFCON. The Eagles eventually went to the tournament without the forward and finished third.