BY BOLAJI OKUNOLA.
Former Super Eagles of Nigeria striker and all-time third highest goal scorer, Yakubu Aiyegbeni has hung his boots this Wednesday, the day he clocks 35. He last featured for Nigeria in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match against Rwanda in Kigali on February 29, 2012. The match ended goalless.
In an international career that spanned 12 years since he came in as a substitute for Tijani Babangida in a 4-0 defeat of Eritrea on April 22, 200 in a World Cup qualifying duel in Lagos, Aiyegbeni went on to be capped 51 times for Nigeria and scored 21 goals.
His last goal was against Korea Republic in Durban during the 2010 World Cup. It was from a penalty spot which was converted minutes after missing what is often regarded as the worst missed goal in a World Cup encounter.
Oh what a miss! A chance for Nigeria to level up in the 63rd minute of a World Cup match with Korea Republic. With the Korean goalkeeper completely helpless, Aiyegbeni surprisingly missed the empty net from less than three metres.
After a successful spell with Everton and later Middlesbrough in the English league, Yakubu had been without a club since leaving Coventry following a brief and unsuccessful spell with the League One club.
He reportedly picked up a hamstring injury late last season and saw his contract mutually terminated after featuring just twice. The Nigerian bulky striker has had spells with numerous clubs since leaving the shores of Nigeria after playing for Okomu Oil and later Julius Berger of Lagos.
His long spell abroad saw him playing for Portsmouth, Leicester, Blackburn, Reading and had a loan spell with the Israeli side, Maccabi Haifa.
Aiyegbeni in the boxing gymn with Anthony Joshua…A new career in the offing?
Last month, Yakubu was pictured training in the gym with world heavyweight champion boxer Anthony Joshua at the Finchley and District Amateur Boxing Club, sparking speculations he might take to boxing, considering his built.
HIS 21 GOALS FOR NIGERIA
- June 16, 2001 (ACNQ- Windhoek) Namibia 0-2 Nigeria – I goal
- July 1, 2001 (WCQ Omdurman) Sudan 0-4 Nigeria – 2 goals
- February 9, 2002 (ACN Mopti) Mali 0-1 Nigeria – 1 goal
- May 30, 2003 (LG CUP- Abuja) Nigeria 3-1 Ghana – 2 goals
- June 1, 2003 (LG CUP- Lagos) Nigeria 3-0 Cameroon – 1 goal
- June 7, 2003 (ACNQ- Abuja) Nigeria 4-1 Malawi – 2 goals
- September 5, 2004 (WCQ- Harare) Zimbabwe 0-3 Nigeria –1 goal
- 0ctober 9, 2004 (WCQ – Libreville) Gabon1-1 Nigeria – 1 goal
- September 2, 2006 (ACNQ-Abuja) Nigeria 2-0 Niger – 1 goal
- October 8, 2006. (ACNQ- Maseru) Lesotho 0-1 Nigeria – 1 goal
- June 17, 2007 (ACNQ – Niamey) Niger 1-3 Nigeria – 1 goal
- January 29, 2008 (ACN Sekondi) Benin 0-2 Nigeria – 1 goal
- February 3, 2008 (ACN Accra) Ghana 2-1 Nigeria – 1 goal
- June 21, 2008 (WCQ- Abuja) Nigeria 2-0 Equatorial Guinea – 1 goal
- November 14, 2009 (WCQ Nairobi) Kenya 2-3 Nigeria 1 -goal
- January 16, 2010 (ACN- Benguela) Benin 0-1 Nigeria – 1 goal
- June 22, 2010 (WC- South Africa) Nigeria 2-2 South Korea – 1 goal