The former Arsenal defender Emmanuel Eboue has spoken of how he has gone from earning millions of pounds a year to hiding from the bailiffs and kipping on the floor of his friend’s home.
The 34-year-old, who also played for Galatasaray and starred in a Champions’ League final, as well as a World Cup for his country Ivory Coast, described the incredible riches-to-rags story.
He told the Sunday Mirror: “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.”
Now unable to play football because of the state of his mental health, he described how he has had suicidal thoughts.
Christmas will be especially poignant, as he grieves the death from cancer of his grandfather who raised him, Amadou Bertin, and the loss of his brother N’Dri Serge, who was killed in a motorbike accident.
“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,” he told the paper.
He said he had been “naive” with all the money he had earned, blaming his lack of education, bad advice and the hangers-on who lost him large sums. The player who starred for the Ivory Coast in the African Nations Cup final in 2012, wants other African players to learn from his mistakes.
“I look back and say ’Emmanuel, you have been naive… why didn’t you think about that before?’ It is hard. Very, very hard. 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 had hoped to return to football and play for Sunderland, but was hit with a 12-month ban by FIFA after failing to settle a £790,000 debt owed to his former agent.
“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 said.