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Thousands attend Enke's memorial

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The service for Robert Enke took place at Hanover Football stadium

More than 45,000 fans, friends and team mates have paid their last respects to Germany's national goalkeeper Robert Enke, who killed himself on Tuesday.

His flower-draped coffin was put in the middle of the stadium of his team, Hanover 96, for the memorial ceremony.

"Robert Enke will never come back to this stadium, the place where he conquered our hearts," Hanover 96 club president Martin Kind said.

Enke, 32, who suffered from depression, threw himself under a commuter train.

He had been expected to play his part in the national team at the World Cup finals in South Africa in June 2010.

'Heavy hearts'

People came from all over Germany to attend the memorial service.

German politicians and personalities from the sports world were also present at the memorial ceremony, in addition to the entire national team.

Outside, hundreds of candles and messages had been left by fans in tribute to the popular player.

A memorial to Robert Enke
Our hearts are so heavy
Martin Kind
Hanover 96 club president

Two giant video screens were erected for those unable to get inside. The ceremony was broadcast on five German channels.

Enke's wife Teresa cried as she stood in front of the coffin, which was covered in white flowers.

Members of the German national team - dressed in black - also approached the coffin to say goodbye.

Captain Michael Ballack laid a wreath by the coffin.

"You were a number one in the real sense of the word. This is why our hearts are so heavy," Martin Kind said.

The governor of Lower Saxony, Christian Wulff, said that Enke's death should make people rethink society's values.

"We don't need flawless robots. We need human beings with rough edges, with all their weaknesses and wonderful qualities," Mr Wulff said.

"We can only guess how big the pressure was that weighed on him."

As Enke's coffin was driven away, the anthem "You'll Never Walk Alone" was played.

Enke will be buried later during a private ceremony.

Six of his former Hanover 96 club team mates will carry the coffin to its final resting place.

His grave will be next to that of his two-year-old daughter, who died from a heart infection.

Enke's death shocked the football world and there has been a huge outpouring of grief in Germany, says the BBC's Tristana Moore in Berlin.

For the past six years, Robert Enke had kept his depression a secret to protect his private life and career as a professional footballer.

During the service, there was a standing ovation for Enke's widow Teresa who bravely spoke out about her husband's depression at a news conference a day after he committed suicide.

Hanover Mayor Stephan Weil said Teresa Enke had shown remarkable courage by revealing her husband's struggle with depression and he said she had helped break the taboo of mental illness in society.



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SEE ALSO
Robert Enke memorial photos
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Enke funeral to be held on Sunday
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Suicide keeper battled depression
11 Nov 09 |  Internationals
A personal tribute to Robert Enke
11 Nov 09 |  Internationals
Goalkeeper suicide stuns football
11 Nov 09 |  Internationals
The pressures of professional play
11 Nov 09 |  Health

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