Eleven years ago, he was lining up to take part in the biggest club match in world football. He was living life in a silver spoon. He pocketed millions of pounds in wages, lived in a mansion, drove flashy cars and his life was all hog heaven. However, Emmanuel Eboue has shockingly revealed that a change in fortune has pushed him to the brink of contemplating suicide due to troubles of life.
In a heartbreaking interview with The Mirror, the former Arsenal man revealed that he sleeps on the floor of a friend’s home and hides from bailiffs daily. Besides, he washes his clothes by hands because he has no washing machine.
A disastrous divorce with his wife Aurelie has seen a judge order he transfers his home to his wife and all his assets have been awarded to her. This has forced the former Arsenal defender to run away from bailiffs for three weeks now.
“I can’t afford the money to continue to have any lawyer or barrister. I am in the house, but I am scared. Because I don’t know what time the police will come,” Eboue told The Mirror.
“Sometimes I shut off the lights because I don’t want people to know that I am inside. I put everything behind the door.”
To add to his woes, the 34-year-old has not seen his children since June. Not to mention the fact that his grandfather Amadou Bertin, who raised him, died in October. As if that is not enough, he lost his brother N’Dri Serge in a motorbike accident.
Eboue remains one of Arsenal’s cult heroes having spent seven years (2004-2007) in top flight football at the London club. He left for Turkish club Galatasaray, where he played for five years, then later signed for Sunderland and Limasol. The Ivory Coast defender was banned for a year by FIFA for failing to pay a former agent, but even though that ban has expired, he is unable to resume his career.
Eboue spoke about being naive and has warned other young African footballers to learn from the mistakes he made:
“I look back and say ’Emmanuel, you have been naive… why didn’t you think about that before?’ It is hard. Very, very hard. The money I earned, I sent it to my wife for our children.” Eboue said.
“In Turkey I earned eight million euros. I sent seven million back home. Whatever she tells me to sign, I sign.”
“She is my wife. The problems with FIFA were because of people advising me. People who are supposed to care. But it was because of them FIFA banned me.”
Eboue is being hosted by a friend he calls “sister”, Yazmin Razak, but sleeps on the floor not to disturb her children. The painful part is that he will not spend Christmas with his own children – Clara, 14, Maeva, 12 and son Mathis, nine.
“It hurts me a lot,” he adds. “They used to call me. But now, no contact. It pains me to be alone without them.”
Having seen many footballers make the leap from professional footballers to television pundits, Eboue admits that seeing his former teammates – such as Arsenal legend Thierry Henry – leaves him “ashamed” of how his own life has unravelled.
“When I see Thierry, I feel happy for him but ashamed of my own situation,” he said.
“When I see friends on TV that I played with or against I say to myself ‘I should still be there’. It’s hard to watch them.”
“I want God to help me,” Eboue said. “Only He can help take these thoughts from my mind.”