Thursday, December 3, 2015 was Gbolahan Salami’s day of honour as the Rashidi Yekini Foundation honoured him for his 17-goal feat which saw him emerging as the highest goal scorer in the Nigerian Professional Football League in the 2015 season.
For Salami, an ex-Shooting Stars’ player, it was a sweet homecoming as football administrators and the likes of Elder Bode Oyewole, Felix Owolabi, Coach Niyi Akande and Dimeji Lawal among others graced the event at the Media Centre of the Obafemi Awolowo Stadium, Ibadan.
He was also accompanied by the Team Manager of Warri Wolves, his present club.
While speaking at the programme, former Shooting Stars Chairman, Elder Bode Oyewole commended Barrister Jubril Mohammed, Yekini’s lawyer and members of the foundation for their efforts to immortalize the late footballer.
“I commend you, you have done excellently well. What Barrister Jubril is doing is what the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria should do. It is legendary. All of us who associate with football should be part of it,” he said.
He went further to admonish people on how to live well. He said “we must work our life out by what we do. It is not just to live up to 70 years or 80. What have you done with those years? Make impact on people’s lives”.
He also spoke about the awardee, disclosing that he is a big fan of Gbolahan Salami and that he didn’t want him to leave Shooting Stars when he did.
“I went to the coach and told him, don’t let this boy go. But I eventually saw that his mind was made up. He may have issues with his character but a good coach will be able to manage him”.
Former Super Eagle and Yekini’s teammate at Shooting Stars, Felix Owolabi appreciated Barrister Jubril Mohammed’s efforts.
He however opined that it is not good enough to immortalize the dead because the dead cannot see whatever is being done after they might have passed on. Rather, “honour should be bestowed on people while they are alive”.
Owolabi also tasked the recipient of the award on improving his performance.
He urged him to strive and improve with every match. Success is a calculated miracle and a principle that should be worked out.
“It is also a matter of choice. Success is for those who are willing to sacrifice their sleep, energy and time to make all rough roads clean and smooth”, he said.
Niyi Akande, the coach who recruited Yekini to Shooting Stars in 1983 disclosed that “he never disappointed me”.
He therefore advised coaches to always go for the best players and be transparent in their team selection, so they would be able to hold their heads high in the future.
In her goodwill message, Yekini’s daughter, Yemi, thanked Barrister Mohammed for upholding the late footballer’s honour despite the fact that Nigerians do not identify with him.
Her sister, Yemisi, who could not attend the programme, disclosed in her video message that she and her sister are delighted about the prize being awarded in their dad’s honour.
Her congratulatory message to Gbolahan Salami was short and simple, “congratulations, as you step into my dad’s big shoes, I pray the Lord will make you greater, even beyond your expectations”.
Explaining the essence of the award, Barrister Jubril Mohammed described it as “the only honour I can do to a loyal person”.
Speaking further, he said “if we fail to do this, nobody will immortalize him.” He went on to describe the late Yekini as a gentleman whose personal policies many misunderstood.
The high point of the ceremony was the presentation of a cash sum of N 100,000 (one hundred thousand Naira), the last pair of football boots Yekini played with as well as a trophy to the highest goal scorer.
Salami pointed out that playing for Shooting Stars brought him fame and honour. “3SC brought me to limelight and made me shine. I thank the Rashidi Yekini Foundation, I am happy to be back in Ibadan. I thank 3SC fans, I really love the club and I might play for 3SC again. I also thank Warri Wolves, my present club. The fans there are wonderful too. I love them.”