Former Arsenal defender Emmanuel Eboue has revealed that his riches-to-rags story has left him at times contemplating suicide.
This is 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.
During an illustrious seven-year career in the Premier League, Eboue pocketed millions of pounds in wages, lived in a mansion and drove flashy cars.
Today, the 34-year-old tells how his staggering riches-to-rags plight has pushed him to the brink of suicide. To listen to Eboue open his heart is as harrowing as it is shocking.
He wants to talk openly and honestly in a bid to encourage others going through the same ordeal to open up. At the peak of his career with Arsenal he became a fans’ favourite. He was part of the side that faced Barcelona in the 2006 Champions League final.
Arsenal lost but Eboue remains a cult-hero at the Emirates Stadium, as much for his happy demeanour and his goal celebrations as the ability which saw him help the Ivory Coast reach the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations Final.
That joy, however, has been replaced by tears – and a deep fear of the future.
Eboue, currently unable to play football because of ill-health, says he has been pushed to the brink. He has:
Lost a bitter divorce battle, with his wife Aurelie awarded all of their assets. Had to hide from cops and bailiffs after being ordered by a judge to transfer his remaining Enfield home to his wife.
So Eboue, his belongings in bags, now awaits the knock that will see him ordered to leave at any time. The worried star said: “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 has taken a huge fall from the days he netted millions at Arsenal and then more than £1.5million a year at Turkish side Galatasaray. He adds: “When I see Thierry I feel happy for him but ashamed of my own situation.
"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.”