Emmanuel Eboue, former Ivorian international and Arsenal defender has revealed that he is broke and sometimes sleeps on the floor in a friend’s living room after several years of playing in the English premier league which earned him millions of dollars.
“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. In Turkey, I earned eight million euros. I sent seven million back home. Whatever she tells me to sign, I sign.
The 34-year-old disclosed in an interview with British tabloid newspaper Sunday Mirror that he faced a bitter divorce that drove him to the brink of suicide after his wife Aurelie took everything he had including their three children, mansion, cars and their first house in North London where he has been ordered by a court to surrender ownership.
“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. 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,” Eboue was quoted by the Sunday Mirror.
He narrated his plight as part of the Sunday Mirror’s Time To Change campaign that seeks to fight the stigma associated with mental illness.
He said he was on the brink of suicide as he hasn’t heard from his children since June, disguises himself to use public transport and uses his hands to wash since he doesn’t even have a washing machine.
He blamed “naivety” for his plight saying he entrusted his finances to his wife and she managed all the contracts he signed which left him vulnerable in her hands.
“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 said, referring to his recently served 12-month ban by FIFA for failing to pay a reported €1million owed to his former agent Sebastien Boisseau.
After the ban, the Ivorian player was signed by Cypriot side Turk Ocagi Limassol where he didn’t go beyond the medicals due to undisclosed “medical problems”.
The once glorious footballer who is known for his impeccable performance with the Ivory Coast national team, Sunderland, Galatasaray and Arsenal cannot do what he knows best – play football – and cannot do another job due to limited education and “shame” of his situation which is driving him to death.
“I want God to help me. Only he can help take these thoughts from my mind. I continue to thank God. I have my life. I didn’t want what has happened. I don’t wish it on anybody,” he said.
“I would accept help from anywhere but if my previous club wants to help me then I would be very, very happy. Maybe I could help the young players? … Maybe I’d see some of the people I played with or against and I’d feel embarrassed. But I would cope,” he hinted.
BY ISMAIL AKWE for WEAFRIQUENATIONSz Service