In one of the most tragic riches to rags stories of modern sport, former Arsenal player, Emmanuel Eboue, has admitted that he is penniless and was close to suicide.
The 34-year-old Cote d’Ivoire star, who appeared for Arsene Wenger’s side between 2004 and 2011, took home a seven-digit sum every year at the Emirates, earning a further £1.5 million annually playing for Turkish giants, Galatasaray.
He now sleeps on the floor in a friend’s apartment, washes his clothes by hand and hides from bailiffs following a court order that he hands over his home in Enfield to former wife, Aurelie.
The defender has also been unable to visit his kids – daughters Clara, 14, and Maeva, 12, and nine-year-old son Mathis – since the estrangement from Aurelie in June.
Added to that is the cancer death of his grandfather Amadou Bertin – who raised him – and the loss of his brother N’Dri Serge, killed in a motorbike accident.
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.
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 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,” he said.
Eboue represented Cote d’Ivoire 79 times, scoring three goals in his international career and playing at the World Cup and final of the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) where they finished as runners-up.