He played in a Champions League final, earned millions in a seven year Premier League career, slept in a expensive home and drove luxurious cars.
But in a shock revelation former Arsenal cult figure Emmanuel Eboue admitted to theMirrorhe’s penniless and has been close to suicide.
The 34-year-old from Ivory Coast who appeared for Arsene Wenger’s side between 2004 and 2011 has admitted he’s seriously considered taking his own life after financial mismanagement has left him skint and a bitter divorce that has meant he is estranged from his three children.
At the height of his career at the Emirates he took home a seven-digit sum every year during his time in North London, earning a further £1.5 million annually playing for Turkish giants Galatasaray.
However, with his former wife Aurelie being awarded of all the couple’s assets, he has been forced to dodge police and bailiffs following a court order – insisting he hand over his home in Enfield to her.
Heartbreakingly, the former Gunner – whose infectious smile and unorthodox defending helped build a cult following among football fans across the globe – has been unable to visit his kids since the estrangement from Aurelie in June.
Eboue is inconsolable at not being able to see his nine-year-old son Mathis and two daughters Clara, 14, and Maeva, 12, this Christmas.
To add to that he has been grieving since his late grandfather Amadou Bertin, who brought him up, sadly died after a brave battle against cancer. To top it all he lost his brother N’Dri Serge, who died in a motorbike crash.
Eboue, who won the free-kick that led to Sol Campbell’s goal for Arsenal against Barcelona in the 2006 Champions League final, has been hit hard with misfortune which has brought him to the brink of suicide.
Speaking to The Sunday Mirror he said:‘I want God to help me. Only he can help take these [suicidal] thoughts from my mind. It hurts me a lot [not to see his children]. They used to call me. But now, no contact. It pains me to be alone without them.’
A deadline for troubled Eboue to surrender ownership of the mansion he once shared with Aurelie passed earlier this month, meaning a judge will sign the transfer if Eboue doesn’t.
The Mirror also reported his former wife will rent out the Enfield property but he says he lacks the funds for a barrister or lawyer to help fight his cause.
So now he waits with his bags packed in the hallway for the dreaded knock on the door which will see the law force him to vacate the property he bought in happier times.
He added:‘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.’
His plans to return to the Premier League for one final payday with Sunderland last season faded after FIFA slapped him with a year’s ban following a dispute with a former advisor.
The former Ivory Coast international who gained 79 caps for his country is remarkably free of bitterness at his former partner Aurelie – but blames previous advisors for FIFA imposing their damaging 12-month playing ban on him.
Eboue, who admits he had a limited education growing up in his country’s capital Abidjan, as he focused on trying to become a professional footballer, also concedes he was ‘naive’ with his fortune.
He accepts he allowed his former wife to take control of their financial affairs, but claims hangers-on bled him dry as they saw him as an easy target because he was never given good advice on how to manage his fortune.
Staggeringly Eboue even recalls having to sign financial paperwork while he was supposed to be training when he was visited by bank staff at London Colney, Arsenal’s training ground.
The Arsenal cult hero now sleeps on a friend’s floor, washes his clothes by hand because he can’t afford a washing machine and can just about find the money for an Oyster card – despite once having a bank-busting balance in the black.
But he thanks the PFA for their help and is sharing his story as a cautionary tale to help young African footballers learn from his errors.
He needs a job and would love a role at his former club Arsenal to help tide him over – but says he would be ’embarrassed’ if he saw some of his former team-mates, including Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp, because of the current plight he finds himself in.
Eboue’s is a tragic situation which, despite the glamour and undreamed riches available at the top tier of English football, is a heart-breaking and salutatory tale for those in charge of the Premier League.
Yet despite his troubles he is still fighting hard, as he thanks God, adding: ‘I didn’t want what has happened. I don’t wish it on anybody.’