Former Arsenal defender Emmanuel Eboue has revealed that his riches-to-rags story has left him at times contemplating suicide after spending his post-football life dodging bailiffs, sleeping on the floor of a friend’s home and washing his clothes by hand because he cannot afford a washing machine.
“I want God to help me,” Eboue said. “Only he can help take these thoughts from my mind.”
The tragic story, as revealed in an interview with the Sunday Mirror, echoes a story that has been told before by many footballers who have been unable to cope with the absence of football once they hang up their boots and retire.
The 34-year-old Eboue, who is unable to play anymore due to ill-health, remains a cult hero at Arsenal due to his seven years spent playing in north London from 2004 to 2011, before leaving for Turkish side Galatasaray. Having signed for Sunderland and Limasol following a five-year stay at Galatasaray, Eboue was given a one-year ban from football for failing to pay a former agent, but even though that ban has expired, he is unable to resume his career.
He has struggled to cope with the death of his grandfather, Amadou Bertin, who raised him before being diagnosed with cancer, and his brother N’Dri Serge, who was killed in a motorbike accident.
He is also about to lose his home. A messy divorce has seen his ex-wife Aurelie awarded all of their assets, and he has been ordered to transfer their Enfield home to her by a judge – although the deadline to do so past three weeks ago and the judge will do so if he fails to.
The former Ivory Coast international is now expecting to be thrown out in the near future, and admitted that he lives “scared” at the thought of police showing up to evict him.
“I can’t afford the money to continue to have any lawyer or barrister,” Eboue said
"I am in the house but I am scared. Because I don’t know what time the police will come.
“Sometimes I shut off the lights because I don’t want people to know that I am inside. I put everything behind the door.
"My own house. I suffered to buy my house but I am now scared.
“I am not going to sell my clothes or sell what I have. I will fight until the end because it is not fair.”
As part of his efforts to avoid bailiffs and police, Eboue stays with a friend that he calls his “sister”, Yazmin Razak, but he sleeps on the floor at her home so he does not disturb her children. However, it is the fact that he will not spend Christmas with his own children – Clara, 14, Maeva, 12 and son Mathis, nine – that gets to him the most.
“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 a number of 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.”
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