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Page last updated at 22:03 GMT, Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Suicide keeper battled depression

Depression took its toll on 'keeper - Enke's widow

Germany goalkeeper Robert Enke, who committed suicide on Tuesday, had been battling depression and was first treated for the illness in 2003.

His widow Teresa said he feared their adopted daughter Leila would be removed if his illness became public knowledge.

He had also struggled to overcome the death of their biological daughter Lara, who died at the age of two in 2006 of a rare heart condition.

Germany have called off their friendly with Chile in Cologne on Saturday.

Enke, 32, who had played for clubs in Germany, Spain, Portugal and Turkey before settling at Hannover 96 in 2004, walked into the path of a train near his home having left a suicide letter in which he apologised for hiding the condition of his mental state.

Enke's widow Teresa appeared at a news conference
Enke's widow Teresa bravely confronted the media

Teresa Enke said: "I tried to be there for him, said that football is not everything. There are many beautiful things in life. It is not hopeless. We had Lara, we have Leila.

"I always wanted to help him to get through it. He didn't want it to come out because of fear. He was scared of losing Leila.

"It is the fear of what people will think when you have a child and the father suffers from depression. I always said to him that that is not a problem."

The couple had adopted eight-month-old Leila in May, and Teresa said her husband had cared for the girl "with love - until the end."

She continued: "When he was acutely depressed, then that was a tough time. That is clear because he thought there was no hope of a recovery on the horizon for him.


"After Lara's death everything drew us closer together, we thought that we would achieve everything. I tried to tell him that there is always a solution.

"I drove to training with him. I wanted to help him to get through it. He didn't want to accept help any more. Football was everything. It was his life. The team gave him security."

A memorial service was held on Wednesday evening in Hannover with a congregation of 800 which included representatives of the DFB and Germany captain Michael Ballack.

Outside the church, thousands of fans marched silently to Hannover's Niedersachsen Stadion, led by Hannover's director of sport, Jorg Schmadtke, coach Andreas Bergmann and Enke's agent and friend Jorg Neblung, who together held a banner with Enke's face and the words 'rest in peace'.

Enke was hit by a train travelling at 100mph as it passed through a level crossing on its route between Hamburg and Bremen.

His wife Teresa, making a courageous appearance in front of the media, said the couple had tried to overcome years of depression through therapy.

ROBERT ENKE 1977-2009
Robert Enke
Born: 24/8/77, Jena, East Germany
Debut: 1995-96
Clubs: Carl Zeiss Jena, Borussia Monchengladbach, Benfica, Barcelona, Fenerbahce, Tenerife, Hannover 96
Germany debut: 27/3/07 versus Denmark Caps: 8
Awards: Bundesliga goalkeeper of the season 2008-09

Dressed in black and struggling to hold back tears, she said: "We thought we could do everything and we could do it with love but you can't always do it."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel contacted Enke's family.

"She communicated her shock and compassion to the widow of Robert Enke in a very personal letter," said government spokesman Christoph Steegmans.

Enke had won eight international caps and was expected by many to be the choice to play as goalkeeper for Germany in the World Cup in South Africa in 2010.

His doctor said he had been treating Enke since 2003, during a turbulent time when the goalkeeper had several unsuccessful transfers to clubs.

"He suffered from depression and fear of failure," Valentin Markser told reporters.

Markser said the player refused to be treated on the day of his suicide, saying he was feeling well.

Enke had lived in the shadow of more illustrious goalkeepers Oliver Kahn and Jens Lehmann for almost a decade - and it was only after the latter's international retirement last year that he emerged as a leading contender for the position, despite earning his first squad call-up in 1999.

One of the two Spanish clubs he had represented, Barcelona, held a minute's silence before dedicating their King's Cup victory over Cultural Leonesa to Enke on Tuesday.

German goalkeeper dies in 'suicide'

The other, Tenerife, said their players would wear black armbands in their La Liga match at the weekend. All teams in the top two tiers of Germany's Bundesliga will observe a minute's silence and wear black armbands in their next round of matches on 21-22 November.

Hundreds of fans gathered outside the Hanover stadium and offices on Wednesday, leaving flowers and lighting candles in Enke's memory.

"We loved him. He was our idol," one fan said. "We will never have someone like him. Not only for us but for the history of football this is a great tragedy."

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see also
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
Barca swoop for Enke
04 Jun 02 |  Europe
Enke in Man Utd no-go
06 Dec 01 |  Man Utd

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