Football mourns loss of a great talent and a modest man
He didn’t quite reach the same levels of achievement on the field either but this modest man will certainly be remembered as a great talent.
Enke, who has committed suicide at the age of 32, was the best of an outstanding crop of German keepers and would likely have been chosen to keep goal at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Maybe there he would have fulfilled his exceptional potential.
Enke had to struggle to get his career back on track after a disappointing spell at Barcelona in the 1990s. Barca snapped him up on a free transfer after an excellent three years at Benfica but he was never able to make an impact at the Nou Camp, with his time there effectively cut short by a single poor performance in a Cup game.
He moved on loan to Fenerbahce and dropped down to the Spanish second division with Tenerife before he fought his way back into the top flight in 2004, back in Germany with Hanover. He eventually won the first of his eight German caps in 2007, eight years after being called up to the squad for the first time. It was a promotion that was long overdue in the eyes of most fans and players.
By then, as is well known, his life had been marked by tragedy, with the death of his two-year-old daughter in 2006 because of a heart problem.
The death touched people in Germany, and he was widely admired for the strength of character he showed in coming back. It helps explain why people have been so moved by his suicide, which came, according to his wife and doctor, after he battled depression for years.
“I can hardly breathe,” said Hamburg captain David Jarolim. “This is a real tragedy: first his daughter and then this.”
A lot of us will have felt the same way on hearing news that is just so terribly sad.
PHOTO: Supporters of Germany’s national goalkeeper Robert Enke stand in silence outside the headquarters of his club Hanover 96, November 11, 2009. REUTERS/Christian Charisius