Turkish club, Galatasaray have offered Emmanuel Eboue a lifeline after the former Arsenal defender revealed he had contemplated suicide after a bitter divorce battle with his estranged Belgian wife Aurelie, stripped him of all of his assets.
The sad story of Eboue’s financial woes shocked millions of football fans globally, after the club-less defender admitted to being broke few years after pocketing millions of pounds at Arsenal and Galatasaray.
In a tell-all interview with Daily Mirror, the Ivorian national says he could no longer afford a lawyer and sometimes spends the night on a floor of a friend’s house, including using public transport.
According to Eboue, who got married at the age of 20, he went broke after his ex-wife won custody of their kids and control of all his assets by exploiting his poor education. He was forced to sleeping on the floor of other people’s houses and washes clothes and plates with his hands.
“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,” he said.
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.
“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.”
The Ivory Coast star who won 79 caps and played for Arsenal between 2005 and 2011 took home a seven-digit sum every year during his time in North London, earning a further £1.5 million annually playing for Gala.
Eboue who has little education claims that he was misadvised on how to manage his finances during his playing days.
According to him, he sent virtually all his wages to his conniving estranged wife, who forces him to sign whatever document she wants to sign and he would oblige.
“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.
“I look back and say ¬‘Emmanuel, you have been naive… why didn’t you think about that before?’ It is hard,” he says.
“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.”
He also said his own children daughters Clara, 14, and Maeva, 12, and son Mathis, nine, no longer keep contact.
“It hurts me a lot. They used to call me. But now, no contact. It pains me to be alone without them,” he adds.
Eboue was part of the Arsenal team that lined up against Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League finals. He was also part of the Ivory Coast team that reached the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations finals.
The 34-year-old also recall the time last March that he was so desperate to watch his former club in action against Everton and had to disguise himself and headed to his local pub in Enfield.
“I covered my face and I went there.” he said.
“I was surrounded by Arsenal fans but they didn’t know it was me.
“I sat, I took a beer and I watched the game. But I kept my hood over my head and I hardly raised it because I knew that the Arsenal fans would recognise me.
“I would have felt embarrassed. I had never been in a pub to watch a game. It used to be in my house. Or maybe in a friend’s house.
“It was the life I had before compared to now. Normally the fans see me on the pitch. If I’d already said that I’d retired then yes, okay. I wouldn’t mind if they saw me in the pub.
“But some fans still think Eboue is still playing. Somewhere. So if they see me they maybe would be shocked.”
Eboue who has now been offered a lifeline by his former club, will take up the role of under-14 assistant coach at Galatasaray.
Speaking on his appointment, Gala head coach, Fatish Terim, told CNN Turk that he would give the former Ivory Coast full-back the role of under-14 assistant coach at the club.
Terim said: ‘We heard news about Eboue in the dressing room, I was informed there, we will do whatever we can to help my friend.’