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Emmanuel Eboue given a reason to smile

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The former Arsenal defender was in high spirits after donning the Gunners’ crest one more time.

Newcastle United v Arsenal - Carling Cup
The former Arsenal fullback was given a chance to don the Gunners’ crest again.
Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Emmanuel Eboue was all smiles at the Bernabeu on Sunday as he appeared against Real Madrid legends in a charity match. The former Arsenal right-back played alongside club greats such as Lauren, Ray Parlour, Sol Campbell, Robert Pires, and David Seaman.

Although Arsenal’s legends lost 2-1, Eboue was in high-spirits. After the match, he was seen signing autographs for fans, taking selfies, and even jokingly stealing a fan’s phone by stuffing it down the side of his shorts. He also posted a hilarious video on Arsenal’s Facebook page. Admittedly, some of what he said was hard to understand, but I will do my best to quote it nonetheless.

“Hello boys!” Eboue addressed the viewers with a wide grin.

“We didn’t win, but we did well.

“We are happy for your squad, and God bless you, I love you!”

He also appeared in Arsenal’s Instagram story throughout the day, where he was shown reuniting with former teammate Manuel Almunia. As for the match, he came on late in the first half at centre-back and was, surprisingly, a dangerous attacking threat. He caused issues in the 52nd minute with a surge up-field, winning a free kick deep in Madrid’s half. And, even better, it’s his birthday today!

But above all, it was very heart-warming to see Eboue with a smile on his face doing what he loves, as not even a year ago, he was suffering unimaginable struggles with divorce and homelessness.

Last Christmas, Eboue revealed the shocking details of his personal and financial hardships. The Ivorian international earned millions of pounds during his Premier League career, and enjoyed luxe cars and expensive homes. However, all of his assets were to be awarded to his wife Aurelie after losing a bitter divorce battle, which forced him to hand-wash his clothes and rely on public transport. He revealed to the Sunday Mirror his harrowing stories of hiding from bailiffs and police after a judge ordered his Enfield home to be handed over to his wife.

“I am in the house but I am scared, because I don’t know what time the police will come,” Eboue said.

“Sometimes I shut off the lights, because I don’t want people to know that I am inside; I put everything behind the door.”

He also revealed the heart-breaking losses of his grandfather and a brother, who died of cancer and a motorbike incident respectively, as well as his estrangement from his children.

Not even football seemed to be on his side...

After a brief stint with Turkish side Galatasaray, he signed a short-term deal with Sunderland in 2016, seemingly securing his much-desired Premier League return. But it wasn’t meant to be, as not even a month after signing his contract, he was issued a 12-month ban from all football-related activity for failing to pay a former agent. In October 2017, he attempted to join the Northern Cyrpriot team of Türk Ocağı Limasol, but the move fell apart after the discovery of a blood-related issue that inhibited from playing professional football.

The mounting angst caused by professional, financial, and personal problems—he revealed—had led him to the brink of suicide. In a much-needed twist of luck, after hearing of his financial and personal woes, Galatasaray manager Fatih Terim offered Eboue a job coaching the team’s Under-14 squad.

Personally, I haven’t looked into his personal life since he found a job, but it seems he is back in good mental health. It certainly brings a tear to the eye to see him in an Arsenal shirt, laughing and joking with fans. During his time at Arsenal he scored some important goals and made crucial contributions, and earned a cult-following amongst fans, who invented the chant, “you’ve only come to see Eboue.”

I’ll leave you with this eye-watering, blistering run from the big-man himself: