11th June, 2019
Former Ivory Coast and Arsenal defender Emmanuel Eboue admits he is still struggling with mental health issues.
The 36-year-old opened up on French television about his battle with depression and admitted he had even considered suicide.
In an emotional interview he revealed his problems started when he was suspended by Fifa from all football-related activity for one year.
The ban which was given as a result of failing to pay money owed to a former agent, led to the termination of his short-term contract at the Premier League side Sunderland in March 2016.
Without a professional club and shattered financially after a bitter and acrimonious divorce case, he admits he had suicidal thoughts.
“Sometimes I would lock myself in my room for three or four days. Just thinking and asking what’s left,” Eboue told RMC Sport Le Vestiaire (The Locker Room) in France.
“Even today, I still take antidepressants to help me because it is still a long road for me. But here I am hoping others would learn from this.”
Eboue, who is now retired from football, scored three goals in 79 appearances for Ivory Coast including at two World Cups (2006 and 2010) and five Africa Cup of Nations.
At club level he spent eight seasons at Arsenal after arriving from Belgian side Beveren in 2004, before moving to Turkey in 2011, where he won three Turkish Super Lig titles and five domestic trophies with Galatasaray.
The Ivorian had returned to England as a free agent after leaving Galatasaray in the summer of 2015, before his hopes of a career revival was cut short.
He says that people took a different view of him after his ban.
“Being away from a competitive football pitch for a year was heartbreaking,” he added.
“I had to train by myself, and I was really ashamed because people looked at me differently.
“Some would say ‘look it’s Eboue, a Uefa Champions League finalist with Arsenal in 2006’, to them it was surprising or shocking.
“Personally, I prefer to train in the morning, but there were people who were training at that time. They’d come to take a picture and post it all over [social media]. So I left to train at night.”
As things got worse he began to lie to his family.
“I couldn’t train during the day and too embarrassed to stay at home,” he admitted.
“My children always asked me when I was going to return to the field, so whenever I stepped out in the morning, I pretended to go to work.
“Unknown to my children I was staying outside and returning home when they were already in bed. I didn’t want them to ask me why they didn’t see me play on television.”
After a time away from the media spotlight, to focus on his recovery, Eboue has recently been more willing to be seen in public.