Turkish lifeline for Eboue after losing it all in divorce

Former Arsenal right-back Emmanuel Eboue in happier days playing at the Emirates Stadium. A divorce court ruling awarded all his assets to his former wife, leaving the Ivorian with nothing to his name.
Former Arsenal right-back Emmanuel Eboue in happier days playing at the Emirates Stadium. A divorce court ruling awarded all his assets to his former wife, leaving the Ivorian with nothing to his name.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

LONDON • Galatasaray have offered their former defender Emmanuel Eboue an academy coaching role after learning that the 34-year-old contemplated suicide amid his riches-to-rags plight.

Eleven years ago, Eboue started the Champions League final at right-back when Arsenal took on Barcelona. Over a seven-year career in the Premier League, he earned millions of pounds and drove fancy cars.

Yet the Sunday Mirror reported that the Ivorian now "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".

Eboue, part of Arsene Wenger's squad between 2004 and 2011, reportedly earned a seven-digit annual salary during his time at the north London club and went on to draw a €2.5 million-a-year (S$3.9 million) pay cheque at Galatasaray.

But financial mismanagement and a bitter divorce that saw his former wife Aurelie awarded all the couple's assets left him penniless and estranged from his nine-year-old son Mathis and daughters Clara, 14, and Maeva, 12. He has not seen his three children since June.

The former Ivory Coast international, who featured in two World Cups, told the British newspaper that he wanted to take his own life.

"I want God to help me," he told the Mirror. "Only he can help take these thoughts from my mind."

Since the revelation of his dire situation as part of the Sunday Mirror's Time To Change campaign that seeks to fight the stigma associated with mental illness, some help is on the way.

Galatasaray manager Fatih Terim, whose earlier spell with the Turkish giants from 2011-2013 overlapped with Eboue's, told CNN Turk that he would give his former charge the role of Under-14 assistant coach at the club.

"We heard news about Eboue in the dressing room, I was informed there, we will do whatever we can to help my friend," he said.

Eboue went as far as to say that he shares a father-and-son relationship with Terim, 64.

"I would be very happy if Fatih gave me the duty in Galatasaray," he was quoted as saying in the Daily Mail.

"Fatih Terim is my father, I love him very much, I do everything for him because I love him very much."

According to the Mirror, Eboue has also received offers of legal advice as he seeks to overturn a court ruling that is set to leave him homeless.

"I can't afford the money to continue to have any lawyer or barrister," he told the tabloid.

"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."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 27, 2017, with the headline 'Turkish lifeline for Eboue after losing it all in divorce'. Print Edition | Subscribe