Some Eleven years ago Emmanuel Eboue was lining up to take part in the biggest club match in world football, the UEFA Champions League, against Ronaldinho’s Barcelona.
The Ivorian’s illustrious seven-year career in the Premier League, he pocketed millions of pounds in wages, lived in a mansion and drove flashy cars.
Now ex-Arsenal defender Emmanuel Eboue spends his days hiding from bailiffs, sometimes sleeps on the floor of a friend’s home, travels by bus and even cleans his clothes by hand because he has no washing machine.
Today, the 34-year-old tells how his staggering riches-to-rags plight has pushed him to the brink of suicide.
“I want God to help me,” he says. “Only he can help take these thoughts from my mind.”
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.
The Sunday Mirror, through its Time To Change campaign, has been battling for the past six years to smash the stigma associated with the mental ill health with which Eboue is now suffering.
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That joy, however, has been replaced by tears – and a deep fear of the future.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.
- Faced a heartbreaking estrangement from his three kids, who he has not seen since June.
- Been grieving after the cancer death of grandfather Amadou Bertin – who raised him – and the loss of his brother N’Dri Serge, killed in a motorbike accident.