Emmanuel Eboue has been offered a coaching role by Galatasaray after learning of the defender’s plight.
The ex-Arsenal star has been left with nothing after a bitter divorce battle with his wife Aurelie.
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.
However, the 34-year-old has been handed a lifeline by the manager of one of his former clubs with a coaching role with their Under-14s.
Galatasaray boss Fatih Terim told CNN: ‘We heard news about Eboue in the dressing room. I was informed there, we will do whatever we can to help my friend.”
Eboue talked openly and honestly during an exclusive interview with the The Sunday Mirror in a bid to encourage others going through the same ordeal to open up.
The 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That joy, however, has been replaced by tears – and a deep fear of the future.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.
It is now three weeks since a deadline passed for Eboue to surrender ownership of the North London home he used to share with Aurelie.
A judge will sign the transfer if Eboue does not do so.
The player and his wife lived there in happier times before Eboue bought a mansion – which Aurelie has now put on the market.
He understands she will rent out the Enfield property.
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.
His dream of a Premier League return with Sunderland evaporated last year, however, after he was hit with a 12-month ban by FIFA after a dispute with a former agent.
Eboue says he was never given guidance to manage his finances.
Insisting his wife looked after most of their affairs, he admits being “naive” with money.
He also claims he was beset by a string of people who gave bad advice and lost him huge sums.
With a limited education, Eboue is paying the price for being unaware of his financial situation. His handful of visits to the bank were with Aurelie.
Eboue even recalls an occasion when bank staff visited him – to sign paperwork – at Arsenal’s training ground.
And he now wants other young African footballers to learn from his mistakes.
He says: “I look back and say ‘Emmanuel, you have been naive… why didn’t you think about that before?’ It is hard.