Emmanuel Eboue’s staggering riches-to-rags plight, after an illustrious seven year career in the Premier League, has pushed him to the brink of suicide.
Eleven years ago he was lining up to take part in the biggest club match in world football.
During an illustrious seven-year career in the Premier League , he pocketed millions of pounds in wages, lived in a mansion and drove flashy cars.
Now ex-Arsenal defender Emmanuel Eboue spends his days hiding from ¬bailiffs, sometimes sleeps on the floor of a friend’s home, travels by bus and even cleans his clothes by hand because he has no washing machine.
Today, the 34-year-old tells how his staggering riches-to-rags plight has pushed him to the brink of suicide.
“I want God to help me,” he says. “Only he can help take these thoughts from my mind.”
To listen to Eboue open his heart is as harrowing as it is shocking.
He wants to talk openly and honestly in a bid to encourage others going through the same ordeal to open up.
The Sunday Mirror, through its Time To Change campaign, has been battling for the past six years to smash the stigma associated with the mental ill health with which Eboue is now suffering.
At the peak of his career with Arsenal he became a fans’ favourite. He was part of the side that faced Barcelona in the 2006 Champions League final.
Arsenal lost but Eboue remains a cult-hero at the Emirates Stadium, as much for his happy demeanour and his goal celebrations as the ability which saw him help the Ivory Coast reach the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations Final.
That joy, however, has been replaced by tears – and a deep fear of the future.
Eboue, currently unable to play football because of ill-health, says he has been pushed to the brink. He has lost a bitter divorce battle, with his wife Aurelie awarded all of their assets.
He had to hide from cops and bailiffs after being ordered by a judge to transfer his remaining Enfield home to his wife.
He is faced a heartbreaking estrangement from his three kids, who he has not seen since June. Also, he has been grieving after the cancer death of grandfather Amadou Bertin – who raised him – and the loss of his brother N’Dri Serge, killed in a motorbike accident.
Faced a heartbreaking estrangement from his three kids. His dream of a Premier League return with Sunderland evaporated last year, however, after he was hit with a 12-month ban by FIFA after a dispute with a former agent. Eboue says he was never given guidance to manage his finances.
Insisting his wife looked after most of their affairs, he admits being “naive” with money. He also claims he was beset by a string of people who gave bad advice and lost him huge sums.
With a limited ¬education, Eboue is paying the price for being unaware of his financial situation.
And he now wants other young African footballers to learn from his mistakes. He says: “I look back and say ¬‘Emmanuel, you have been naive… why didn’t you think about that before?’ It is hard.
The money I earned, I sent it to my wife for our children. In Turkey I earned €8m. I sent €7m back home. Whatever she tells me to sign, I sign.
The problems with FIFA were because of people advising me. People who are supposed to care. But it was because of them.”
The defender was on the cusp of a Premier League return, however, when he signed for Sunderland in 2016.
But, before he played a single match for the Black Cats Eboue was slapped with one-year ban from playing football for failing to pay a former agent.