Celestine Babayaro

Former Chelsea player, Celestine Babayaro is being chased by creditors after being declared bankrupt. The ex-Nigerian international, who was reported to earn £25,000-a-week at one stage, has been listed alongside a dinner lady and glass cutter in an announcement printed in the London Gazette.

The player, who won the gold with Nigeria at Atlanta ’96 Olympic, has been living at an address on Laleham Road, in Shepperton, Middlesex, according to the order. Neighbours said they feared the former full-back, now 32, had fallen on hard times because the upkeep of his £475,000 property had slipped.

It is understood the player who started 66 times for the Magpies, had bought the house for family members to be near him when he signed for Chelsea, in 1997. The house is also next door to the home where his younger brother, Kennedy was understood to have lived until he died of tuberculosis in 2007.

A neighbour, who lives on the same street as Babayaro said: “You can tell money’s difficult because the home used to be maintained really nicely, but now it’s a bit of a mess. “You can see where the conservatory is starting to fall down and the garden is completely overgrown. They came and asked to borrow my lawnmower but I had to say no because the grass was too long and would have broken it.”

The bankruptcy order was first entered at a court in Croydon, London, last year, before being confirmed last month. It is understood Babayaro has recently been living abroad. The financial meltdown is the latest in a string of disappoint-ments for the U-17 World Cup winner in 1993.

After an injury-plagued spell at St James’s Park, Babayaro’s career stalled when he moved to the US in the hope of starring alongside David Beckham at LA Galaxy. But he was released by the club, and his hopes of a comeback with Portsmouth were dogged by a bout of malaria. Babayaro is understood to have racked up debt despite having the rest of his contract paid by Newcastle he was released in 2007.

He was signed for United for £1m by Graeme Souness, in 2005, and famously chose to play for the team just hours after his brother’s death.