Speaking in an interview with Canal + last weekend, Ivorian right-back Emmanuel Eboue discussed his reversal of fortunes that has led to him being bankrupt and without support.
You’ve been a Champions’ League finalist with Arsenal, and today you’ve lost everything…
(Heavy sighing) I’ll tell you the truth. As I speak, my heart bleeds because I don’t deserve this. With everything I’ve achieved, all the trophies I’ve won with Arsenal and Galatasaray…. And today, to find myself like this, is difficult. I didn’t ask for this, but it happened.
When did you realise you had no money left?
It was a consequence of my divorce. When I went to the bank to get some information, I learned that there was no money left on my account.
How did you react at the moment?
I couldn’t believe it. And I had trouble thinking to myself that the person who I live with, who I had children with, could do this to me. I had difficulty thinking this would happen to me.
So you had a shared bank account, and she took the money out?
That’s what happened. I know I was naïve.
I imagine that we’re dealing with millions of euros here?
Many millions, yes. I know that I was swindled. What’s most important for me isn’t getting that money back, it’s the sacrifice. What’s important for me is to come back to show people that what they think is not true. I want to show that I still have talent and the desire to come back and succeed on the field. Even if you found me a club in Baghdad or Pakistan, I would go, because I want to play.
11 years at Arsenal, followed by Galatasaray, and now we see you living in terrible conditions. Do you risk getting kicked out?
I do risk that. But what hurts me is that I don’t have anyone by my side. I feel abandoned because I was very attached to my children. I was happy with my children and family, but today, I find myself alone.
Is the football world united? Or did you also feel abandoned by it?
Yes, I do. The world of football is ungrateful. Football isn’t all about talent anymore. It’s all about money and business. I swear, it hurts. At home, I don’t even have a television because of how much it hurts. When I watch my friends play on TV, I’m happy for them, but deep down, I’m crying. It’s because of other people’s maliciousness that I’m home alone, crying. I have no friends, no friends with whom I’ve played, who are in touch with me. The only time they came to me was when they heard I was struggling or when I had a problem. For me that’s not friendship.
You’ve hit a low point?
Yes, I’ve felt depressed. To the point where I would lock myself inside and not leave the house because, first and foremost, I felt ashamed. I don’t even have a car anymore. I would take public transport, and have to hide myself so that people wouldn’t recognize me because of how I ashamed I was. And secondly, if journalists came by to ask to take photos or to film me, it became difficult.
My life became a movie. You have to be strong to overcome this. I saw myself high up, but then I began to regress and regress. And that, I wouldn’t want it to happen to anyone. Cause it’s very, very, very difficult. I have videos and pictures of the 2006 champions league final, and when I look at it, I cry… I have pictures with the Arsenal players, Thierry Henry, Robert Pires, Sol Campbell…. But when I see that, I burst into tears because I still haven’t reached my objective. But I don’t throw the towel.