RIP Robert Enke: German star goalkeeper commits suicide

Robert Enke, the Hannover and Germany goalkeeper has died after being hit by a train close to a level crossing near his Hannover house. He was 32 and was regarded as the favourite to be Germany’s No.1  at next year’s World Cup in South Africa.

A statement from German police released following the incident read,”The victim is apparently national team goalkeeper Robert Enke from Hannover 96. The first police indications are that it was a suicide.”

Jörg Neblung, Enke’s agent and close friend said it was definitely suicide. Jörg said, “I can confirm that it was suicide,” Robert took his own life shortly before six o’clock. A press conference in Hanover on Wednesday will reveal more details.”

Hannover’s president, Martin Kind, said the goalkeeper had been “unstable” recently but it had not been publicly noticed. “You expect many things, but not something like that. I do not know how and why it happened, but I do not think that it had anything to do with football. This is a tragedy” King added.

His doctor Valentin Markser revealed Enke had an acute fear of failure and had been treated for depression since 2003 following a difficult transfer to Barcelona and subsequent loan to Turkish side Fenerbahce.

The Cologne-based doctor said Enke had visited him six weeks ago, suffering from a deep bout of depression — around the same time he lost his place in the Germany team through illness.

The crossing was not far from Enke’s Hannover house and his car was near the scene, unlocked, with his wallet on the seat. The two train drivers reported seeing a man on the tracks and applied the brakes while travelling at about 100mph but could not stop in time, the police reported.

Enke death has left those closest to him both personally and professionally in total shock. Hundreds of fans lit candles and placed bouquets of  flowers outside the Hannover stadium in memory of their captain who had been with the club since 2004. “We are all shocked. We can’t find the words,” national team manager Oliver Bierhoff said from Bonn, where the national team assembled. Theo Zwanziger, German Soccer Federation president voiced a similar sentiment. “We are speechless.” said Zwanzigar.

Enke had recently come down with a bacterial stomach illness which had ruled him out for nine weeks and had returned only 11 days ago to to play for Hannover in Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Hamburg – his last game before his untimely death. Although he had not been selected for the Germany’s friendly matches against Chile and Ivory Coast next Wednesday Germany’s Coach Joachim Löw, had said Enke – who won eight caps after making his debut in 2007, the last of them against Azerbaijan in August – remained the leading candidate to be his No1 in South Africa.

Enke who was an understudy to Jens Lehmann at Euro 2008 was in line to secure the starting place after Jens Lehmann’s retirement but was set back by a broken hand, increasing the chances Rene Adler of taking his role. Enke made 196 Bundesliga appearances and also played for Borussia Mönchengladbach after starting his career in East Germany with Jena. He also had spells at foreign clubs: Tenerife, Fenerbahce, Barcelona and Benfica.

Barcelona observed a minute’s silence in his honour before their Copa de Rey match against Cultural Leonesa, while Tenerife in paid tribute to their former player. A statement released by the club said,”Tenerife want to convey their condolences and sympathy following the recent death of the German goalkeeper Robert Enke, who played for the team during the 2003/04 season.Tenerife will have a minute’s silence in the next game against Sevilla and will wear black armbands.”

Enke’s daughter Lara had died in 2006 of a rare heart condition when she was two and he is survived by his wife Teresa, and their eight-month-old daughter, who the couple adopted in May this year.

Germany has canceled their friendly against Chile as a mark of respect to Robert Enke.


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