A former Super Eagles left-back, Ben Iroha, has denied reports that a mafia in the team conspired against late Rashidi Yekini after the fallen striker scored Nigeria’s first World Cup in the United States of America in 1994.
Iroha and Yekini were part of the victorious Tunisia ’94 Nations Cup Eagles squad and the USA ’94 World Cup. In fact both players scored Nigeria’s two goals in the semi-final in the 2-2 draw against Cote d’Ivoire before the Eagles advanced to the final after a penalty shootout.
“I don’t think there was mafia in the Super Eagles,” the ex-Vitesse Arnhem of Holland left-back said at the MTN Football Hub in Lagos on Sunday.
“Yekini was the team’s highest scorer and most of our goals came from him. So I don’t think there was a gang-up against him.
“Players like me, (Stephen) Keshi, (Austin) Eguavoen and (Peter) Rufai spoke for the players. I guess that’s what some people meant by mafia.
“When Jay Jay (Austin Okocha) first joined the Eagles I told him ‘here (Eagles) it’s team work and not individual ability.’ When he played individual football, he (Okocha) was left out but when he played for the team, he came back into the squad.
“We were just a team striving towards one goal.”
Iroha also hailed the exceptional qualities of Yekini admitting that he wouldn’t have played for free like the fallen star did while with the national team.
“Yekini was an exceptional player and person. He was our greatest striker. I can still recall how he scored our first World Cup goal right from (Daniel) Amokachi’s pass to (George) Finidi and then on to Yekini. He gave his salaries to the young players. He played for free. I can never play for free like Yekini.”