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A life too short

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Eleanor Oldroyd Eleanor Oldroyd | 15:16 UK time, Tuesday, 9 November 2010

In a small country churchyard, deep in the farmlands of northern Germany, is a plain stone cross with two names engraved on it. It is a peaceful spot, the silence broken every few minutes by the regional express trains rushing past a few hundred metres away.

It is a sound that former Germany goalkeeper Robert Enke would have heard on 10 November, 2009 as he stood at the graveside of his daughter Lara, who died at the age of two in 2006 of a rare heart condition.

He had gone there to say goodbye. Turning away at last, he returned to his car, drove up the road, parked by the railway line and stepped in front of one of the trains.

The news shocked the football community across Europe. Enke was 32-years-old, a husband and father, at the peak of his career with Bundesliga side Hannover 96 and virtually a certainty to be wearing the gloves for Germany at the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa.

Robert Enke, Germany v Belgium, 2008

Enke earned eight senior caps with Germany. Photo: AFP

So why did he choose to end his own life on that late autumn day a year ago?

To try to answer that question, I went to Germany last week to speak to those who knew and loved Robert.

In many ways, the answer is a simple one but, at the time, only those closest to him knew it. Enke was suffering from, and for some years had been treated for, a serious illness - depression.

He wanted to keep his condition a secret for a number of reasons. Young, fit and dynamic sportsmen are not supposed to have days when they can barely get out of bed in the morning, let alone go to training, play a match, banter with their team-mates.

Least of all, those entrusted with the number one shirt, the last line of defence, the reliable, rock solid presence in goal. Think of the towering personalities of Oliver Kahn and Jens Lehmann, Enke's predecessors in the German national team.

Enke feared for his career if he went public with his depression but also for the future of his family.

After Lara's tragic death, Enke and his wife Teresa adopted a baby girl, Leila. Seemingly without justification, Robert believed that Leila would be taken away from them if the authorities knew of his mental health problems.

Speaking the day after her husband died, Teresa told a news conference that Lara's death had brought her and Enke closer together and that they had believed that, with love, they could get through anything. Sadly, she had found, that was not the case.

A year on, Enke's widow has chosen to grieve in private despite the renewed press attention brought on by the anniversary of her husband's suicide. But we were able to speak to some of those who knew him best.

Enke's friend, journalist Ronald Reng, has written a biography, based on the goalkeeper's diaries. Reng told me they had originally planned for it to be an autobiography, to be published when he retired from football.

We went to the Cologne offices of Enke's agent, Joerg Neblung, who was very close to the family. It was almost unbearable to hear him describe how he had been on the phone to Teresa at the moment she discovered her husband's suicide letter.

And we travelled to Hannover, to visit the club where, after ill-fated spells at Barcelona and Fenerbahce, Enke seemed to have found career satisfaction.

As captain of Hannover 96, he was loved by the fans equally for his outstanding goalkeeping skills as for his warm and thoughtful personality. Those at the club were delighted that, after years of underachievement in the Bundesliga, things were going well on the field and proud that one of their number had been called up to represent his country.

In the days after his death, the AWD Arena became the focus of the city's grief, in a manner never before seen in Germany.

Thirty-five thousand fans staged an impromptu march from the city centre to the stadium to light candles and sign a book of condolence. More filled the stands for his funeral service on 15 November, exactly a week after he had played in goal for the final time, in a league game against Hamburg.

Germany fans' banner reading 'Robert, we will never forget you'

'Robert, we will never forget you', Germany v Ivory Coast, 18 Novermber 2009. Photo: AFP

To those of us in Britain, it does not seem strange that a football ground would become a place of pilgrimage at such a traumatic time. We have become sadly accustomed to such occasions. In the last couple of years, I've been at memorials at Old Trafford on the 50th anniversary of the 1958 Munich air crash, and at Anfield for the 20th anniversary of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster.

But the events of that week took Hannover 96 by surprise. Club president Martin Kind told me that there was no rulebook for such an occasion and the already grief stricken staff had worked long hours to allow the fans to congregate and come together to mourn.

As the club's press officer described the scene, it was like London in the days after Princess Diana died in 1997.

A year on, Hannover's supporters are planning to repeat the march to the stadium to honour Enke's memory. The city has announced it will rename one of the roads close to the ground after him. The club wants his legacy to be the Robert Enke Foundation, set up to increase understanding about depression among sportsmen and women, and to help them find treatment.

But another German international goalkeeper believes football still has a long way to go.

Bayer Leverkusen's Rene Adler claimed this week that the sport still puts intolerable pressure on its players. He told a German website that the fans who pay good money to come to games expect to see commitment and passion but not any weaknesses.

"Someone may be the Messiah one day and then three days later they are seen as a failure," Adler stated.

On the anniversary of Enke's death, representatives from the German Football Federation, the German national team and Hannover 96 will lay wreaths at his grave. They will see the tributes, poems, toys and flowers left there by fans over the past year - and his name, now engraved below Lara's on the stone cross.

And perhaps they will consider whether they still have lessons to learn from the tragic tale of Enke.

You can hear a special programme about Robert Enke, "A Life Too Short", on 5 Live Sport this Thursday night from 7pm.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    What a shame for football. A talented player, cut off in his prime. RIP Robert Enke

  • Comment number 2.

    It goes to show that money can't buy happiness and no matter what your bank balance we are all more vulnerable to the more important things in life.

    Nice to see a blog which is about something deeper than a looming financial crisis at a club or one players contract negotiation.

    Money, money, money is not what life is about. Its a necessity but far from the be all and end all which seems to be the case in the world of today.

  • Comment number 3.

    Sport is meant to be about enjoyment for players and escaping from tedium for spectators, adding a bit of excitemeant to our lives. Should have been an ideal lifestyle for a young who was setting himself up financially for life, it is obviously being taken far too seriously by some people.

  • Comment number 4.

    I have just finished reading Marcus Trescothick's autobiography and at the start of the book I was very dismissive of depression and that it was just a state of mind and people should just pull themsleves together and get on with life. I mean how could a young man who played cricket for his country, adulated by thousands and paid for a job a lot of people give up their weekends for............... possibly be depressed?? Well like Enke, it is an illness that can hit anyone and it has changed my mind completely.

    Trescothick was lucky, Robert clearly not so........very good blog Eleanor.

  • Comment number 5.

    A thoughtful piece, as a sufferer of depression it shows all the hallmarks of the ilness. A caring and thoughtful man who is suffering with extreme anguish but is too scared to own up to this perceived weakness and sees only one way out. Attitudes have to change to allow sufferers to seek help and to stop these tragedies. The more we talk about this type of illness the more lives will be saved, yet there is a 12 month waiting list in the UK for talking therapies, if people had to wait that long for a hip replacement it would be a scandal.

  • Comment number 6.

    I agree about the pressure being heaped on young shoulders. Sportsmen are as human as the rest of us. In fact, there is a case for them being even more vulnerable due to the harsh glare they're constantly subjected to. A lot needs to be done to mentor and encourage anyone in that domain.

    All death is tragic, and maybe even more so when no one around you picks up signs of imminent collapse. We fans also have a responsibility to tone down our rhetoric and expectations. Would we want to be on the receiving end of our own criticism?

  • Comment number 7.

    You will always be with us EИKE. Du Bist Unsere N.1 - Benfica

    Enke and Féher Forever.

  • Comment number 8.

    It is a tragic story indeed. Gone but will never be forgoten. RIP Enke

  • Comment number 9.

    Young players are hit with overnight fame, money and adulation and expected to deal with all of it. Its not surprising some cannot deal with it on their own. A goalkeeper too gets all of the blame for a loss, rarely the praise for a win. I hope this opens the eyes of many clubs and help is there for anyone who needs it. RIP Enke

  • Comment number 10.

    As a parent, I would only dare imagine the pain and the immense feeling of loss. This incident only sheds a small light on a massive illness that affects so many, god bless Robert's family and I hope they find peace.

    RIP Enke.

  • Comment number 11.

    Thanks for writing this article.

    RIP Enke.

  • Comment number 12.

    The signs have been there for years. George best? Gazza? These players were the first of their kind so the authorities can possibly be excused. But FIFA or the FA should have recognised that players may require some form of psychological help throughout (or after) their careers?! This should be made mandatory for clubs and readily available to all players (if it isn't already?..anyone?)

  • Comment number 13.

    Personally i find the pressure of the game for him wasnt his downfall.. it was the losing of his young girl.

    I would never understand how someone would get over that. I think the game took his mind away from reality and when the reality hit home.. There was no escape..

    Very sad as a father and near on impossible to deal with something as heartbreaking as this..

    He is with his little angel now.. RIP Enke..

  • Comment number 14.

    To lose a child at such a young age is one of the worst feelings you could possible expirence, and I hope I never feel half of what Enke felt because it's a horrible feelings. RIP Enke.

  • Comment number 15.

    Thank you for writing this thoughtful article. It is an apt anniversary to remember, to highlight a very humble but troubled young man, and that depression affects anyone in any walk of life. Even though I suffer from depression, I cannot even begin to imagine what Mr Enke suffered. RIP indeed.

  • Comment number 16.

    I wish Robert could have known how many people cared and would have done their upmost to help.

    I don't think this is something that can be placed on football and the burden of media pressures as Rene Adler suggests. Being a Messiah one day and not the next pales against the challenges faced by surgeons, firefighters, paramedics and many others. Sport may be quite 'macho' and hard for someone to admit what they fear may be perceived as a weakness, but then in most men's mind their own world seems equally unforgiving.

  • Comment number 17.

    Beautiful and moving piece Eleanor. The introduction was particularly strong and made me feel terribly sorry for Robert Enke and his family.
    I can only imagine the pain he could have gone through losing his young child in such a way, it must have been heart-breaking.
    It really brings to mind the insecurities of life and makes you embrace every moment you are in it.
    I hope somewhere, somehow Robert has found his peace with his daughter.
    A true emotional, affectionate, loving and caring man lost in such a cruel way.
    I can only hope I never have to endure the pain he had to feel.
    Robert you have been missed terribly.
    May you Rest in Peace for ever more.

  • Comment number 18.

    Robert Enke RIP

    Hopefully Wayne Rooney and other Premiership stars will read this and think twice about their own lavish lifestyles seeing how easily it can all vanish and that health and wellbeing are far superior then having millions in the bank

  • Comment number 19.

    Robert Enke was a class goalkeeper and from what i hear a fantastic human being who fought against depression for as long as he could before it took him away from Hannover,The Footballing world but most importanley his family.

    I hope that people can see even the most higley paid,well sought after people in the world have there own problems to deal with on a daily basias like us mere mortals.Robert Enke for me would have been Germany's number one at this World cup if he had still been with us such was his form at the time.

    This also shows me two things:1:Life is precious and never lose sight of that,I sometimes have bad days at work but nothing could have been compared to what Robert Enke went through for a long long time.And number 2:Next time you shout abuse at some one at football just think.You would not do it in the middle of the street so what makes it acceptable at football.Even the smallest comment can make the biggest difference it seems.


    Robert Enke.In the eyes of world football you will badley missed and i hope we all learn from this tragedy.

    Should have been so much more.R.I.P

  • Comment number 20.

    Great piece Eleanor... All the things have been pointed out, but this is well written article and I just wanted to say thanks! RIP Robert

  • Comment number 21.

    Very sad indeed. RIP Robert.

    However, i'd like to add something.

    Whilst players moan and complain about their stresses and strains, don't you think your average Joe has these problems too? Bills to pay, targets to meet, family pressures. And where can we turn to? Thats when strength of character kicks in.

    Footballers are molly coddled.

    If this was your average office worker, there would be no such things done for them. No marches through a city or candle vigils.

    And why have a centre for depressed sportsmen? What about the normal guy on the street? Or aren't we worth as much as a celebrity!?

    Just some of my personal thoughts.

    "It is a peaceful spot, the silence broken every few minutes by the regional express trains rushing past a few hundred metres away"

    What a conradiction, and irony too.

  • Comment number 22.

    Good piece.
    Andy's comments (No 4) are, I suspect, like a lot of peoples thoughts at first. Marcus Trescothick's book is superb in this respect. Perhaps the macho culture that is in football is less easy to break than in cricket but hopefully this piece and it's tragic cause will help.

    As for Phil (No21) words almost fail me. Try reading about depression (I certainly wouldn't wish you to suffer from it). The candle light vigil & march were for a man who had been in the public eye. That was his job. It had touched many who supported his team and were shocked at his death, and its manner. Your friends and relatives would come to your funeral (hopefully in many, many years time) but there were probably a lot more people who would have wished to pay their respects to Robert than would to some one in a "normal" job. That's what "fame" is about.

  • Comment number 23.

    Great blog. We need more blogs on the subject of depression if we are to increase awareness of it. But we also need help from the government and health officials in tackling it because, right now, it seems like they just don't want to know. It needs to be so much easier to get help.

    A few years ago I had depression. It was horrible. I'd tried to talk to a couple of mates about it but they just dismissed the whole thing "You're not depressed, you're just stressed and upset. We've all got problems. Just get on with it". I don't blame them for saying that and thinking so lowly of depression because i was like that once. People tend to dismiss what they don't understand. But their cavalier attitude to depression just made me withdraw in to myself even more. I didn't want to talk to family in case they thought i was a failure, and i certainly wasn't going to talk to any more friends.

    I finally built up enough courage to go to the doctors about it. But that was probably the worst experience of the lot. There was no offer of councelling, the GP didn't even want to listen to my story. He just cut me off mid-sentence, wrote out a prescription for some medication, and just told me to come back in a few months. I left that room feeling more lost than ever. I didn't want to take the drugs because i didn't want to become dependant on them just to leave the house. So i ripped up the prescription, went and saw my best mate and begged him to help me. I opened up to him for hours about everything that was on my mind and he helped me through it. Luckily for that GP I have a great network of friends. If i didn't, i probably wouldn't be here now.

    Sorry for the long post everyone, but my point is that depression is deadly. It CANNOT be underestimated or dismissed. Councelling needs to be much more accessible, and more needs to be done to increase awareness. Sufferers need to be comfortable with talking to someone about their troubles. There is an enormous difference between depression and just feeling sad. People need to understand that.

    Robert Enke was one of the unlucky ones and I hope he is enjoying having a nice rest with his daughter. RIP.

  • Comment number 24.

    Great blog, Ealanor.
    There is nothing of value I could add - all I can do is say thank you.

  • Comment number 25.

    Unfortuantely, Enke's last actions would suggest he was beyond the point of help...it's idfficult to think any kind of treatment could reverse the thoughts of somebody who carried out this ending of their life.

    A tragic story, and the tribute to the man above the footballer is what is important. This is the message that should go out to all youth footballers who don't make the grade. The fact that there is a lot more life has to offer. Look at Enke, he had everything he could have wanted from his football career, but tragically his life outside of football fell apart.

    RIP

  • Comment number 26.

    It is so sad that he must of felt such loneliness at the end, without ever realising how much he was loved.

  • Comment number 27.

    Respectful tribute to a very sad and tragic story, Eleanor.

    What stood out from your piece was the comment "without justification, Robert believed that Leila (his adopted daughter) would be taken away from them if the authorities knew of his mental health problems."

    Sadly I believe most of us would have exactly the same concerns mainly due to the portrayal of mental illness in the the general media and how the illness of 'depression' is often stigmatised. How many times do we hear tragic news stories simply reported to be caused by people 'known to suffering from mental health issues' as if they are a different species of being?

    The really sad thing about Robert's and so many other cases is that the vast outpouring of love and understanding always comes too late - after people have gone - when more attention and RESPECT should be given to those suffering whilst still among us. Robert felt a need to hide his illness from the authorities and even teammates and that should shame all society.

    RIP Robert

  • Comment number 28.

    Great blog, loved it. very sad for enke and his widow . life sometimes sucks....

  • Comment number 29.

    The signs have been there for years. George best? Gazza? These players were the first of their kind so the authorities can possibly be excused. But FIFA or the FA should have recognised that players may require some form of psychological help throughout (or after) their careers?! This should be made mandatory for clubs and readily available to all players (if it isn't already?..anyone?)
    ------------------
    The majority of clubs do offer this kind of service now, even back in Best's day most clubs had chaplains. There isn't muich a club or the FA can do if a player shooses not to seek help via them.

    Best and Gazza chose their path, they never sought out any help because they refused to believe that they had a problem. Look at Tony adams, he had the same and other issues but asked for help and was supported.

    It's not the sport that is to blame for playes hiding these things but the fans and media. Until such a time as a top player can come out and admit to something without scourn being poured on thm by those on the terraces it will always be an issue. Blaming the clubs, FA or FIFA is just lazy.

  • Comment number 30.

    Whilst players moan and complain about their stresses and strains, don't you think your average Joe has these problems too? Bills to pay, targets to meet, family pressures. And where can we turn to? Thats when strength of character kicks in.
    --------------
    No, most normal people do not have the same pressures and stresses. Most normal people can go out the night after a bad day at the office, most normal people can have a meal in a pub in peace, most normal people do not have to guess which of those approaching them are genuine people rather than gold-diggers or undercover journalists.

  • Comment number 31.

    Eleanor, thanks for starting this great blog. I was one of those marching through the streets of Hannover last year, everyone in complete shock. And even today there's still some kind of shock, reading this made me starting to cry again.
    BUT: you put up some irony in your article. I quote: "...It is a peaceful spot, the silence broken every few minutes by the regional express trains rushing past a few hundred metres away. It is a sound that former Germany goalkeeper Robert Enke would have heard on 10 November, 2009 as he stood at the graveside of his daughter Lara, who died at the age of two in 2006 of a rare heart condition. He had gone there to say goodbye. Turning away at last, he returned to his car, drove up the road, parked by the railway line and stepped in front of one of the trains. ..." What is really making me all upset: noone is thinking about those 2 poor chaps driving that train Robert took ...

  • Comment number 32.

    Despite the stories that continually circulate the tabloids, not all footballers are captivated by celebrity and it's trappings. They suffer the same problems and inadequacies as everyone else in society.

    Robert Enke was just such a man. It's fitting he should be remembered, and I can think no better way, than a foundation to support sportsmen and women with similar problems to Enke's. The thing I find most disturbing, is the Robert felt his illness should be kept secret.

    I have worked with two household names in The Premier League, who felt the need to keep their own illness quiet. Why? Because they felt they would be open to ridicule. After all what do they have to be depressed about?

    The public don't want to read mundane stories about real life! So we have a culture of building up our sporting hero's, only to knock them down at a later convenient date. It sells copy.

    I am heartened that Robert Enke and the family he left behind, have been remembered on this sad anniversary. Eleanor, let's hope you have a follow up piece next year, highlighting the good work being done in the big man's name.

  • Comment number 33.

    rest in peace enke. may god have mercy on your sole. i have respect for you and feel the pain of your death. god bless from leicester :) xxx

  • Comment number 34.

    As someone currently suffering from depression this blog resonates with me a great deal, and it is very interesting to see how divisive the issue is, purely because of the football context.

    Football is a game for strong characters, in many people's eyes, and many see depression as a sign of weakness.

    I used to think like that too, until my depression led me to make irrational, foolhardy decisions. Thankfully I've never been so low as to consider suicide, but I can understand what it feels like to hide such feelings and not to know how to confide in anyone.

    This blog is useful just by it's existence. I would strongly encourage anyone interested to read up on the subject. For example, Stan Collymore's autobiography woud be a good starting point when it comes to looking at footballers with mentall illnesses.

    With all of the issues mentioned here (whether mental illness, alcolhism or whatever) it is very easy to judge from afar. I too have looked at Besty and Gazza and felt little sympathy, but then I've never been an alcolhic, so what do I know?

  • Comment number 35.

    Firstly, may I congratulate you on a very considerate, moving and informative piece. It's amazing the feelings of loss & regret you can feel when reading the tragic story of a person who you've never had the pleasure of meeting. It's also an indication of how debilitating a disease such as depression can be, even for those where status and monetary wealth are a given.

    My own father suffered from depression for a number of years, and tragically took his own life 7 years ago. On recalling the weeks and days beforehand, it's obvious to see all the signs were there but we were too afraid to ask the question, and he was too afraid to admit the problem existed.

    Among males, there is definately a stigma attached to facing mental health issues which directly results in this appalling vista of suicide. My Dad was one of the strongest, most caring men I've ever known, and he'd have done anything to protect his family. Unfortunately he chose his course of action as the best solution to the problem he faced.

    Articles like Eleanors can only assist in highlighting this issue and keeping it in the public eye is paramount if we are to tackle the problem of depression and it's effects. From the heart - thank you.

  • Comment number 36.

    #30 If he didn't like the spotlight (this stands for any footballer), then find another job. Simple. Most people don't have that luxury, or huge wealth to be able to do this. Most footballers go out LOOKING to be in the spotlight, ive seen it umpteen times when i've been out on the town. Flashing their money around, and behaving like they own the place.

    Depression is a horrible disease, but everyone should be entitled to treatment of an equal standard. Having a depression clinic solely for sports people is crazy. Anyone can get depressed. Why are they any different?

  • Comment number 37.

    Like several of your writers I am also a sufferer from depression. Depression can strike anyone, irrespective of status, age, occupation or anything else. To those who have written that Robert Enke "shouldn't" have suffered from depression because he was a rich, successful sportsman, you have missed the point.

    In my view the tragedy of Robert was that he felt he couldn't acknowledge and be open about his condition. I don't know whether the fear that his adopted daughter would be taken away from him had any validity but it seems a typical case of the black, distorted thinking that sufferers are prone to. If you can't talk about your fears there is no one to help you put your thinking straight.

    The stigma surrounding depression is both unnecessary and intensely damaging. I only hope that Robert's death and the great outpouring of grief that has surrounded it, will play its part in dispelling that stigma.

  • Comment number 38.

    RIP Enke.

    But I do not understand one thing. Why is Enke being made such a big deal ? If a wonderful footballer from a remote part of the world does the same & dies, only people who follow their league & his family & friends will be grieved. It may come as a small snippet in some remote corner of a big newspaper, and mostly people will miss it, unless they read every letter in the paper. Why not also make his passing away a half-a-page article, describing his skills giving a brief biography of him as well ?

    I mean no disrespect at all to Enke, but when millions of people die every day in the world and it all goes unnoticed, why should I care for a depressed footballer who commits suicide? Again, I mean no disrespect at all to Enke and don't take this in the wrong way.

  • Comment number 39.

    so sad. a lost talent. rip.

  • Comment number 40.

    Excellent piece. It's important to remember that simply because someone is at the top level in his chosen profession that it in no way guarantees a trouble-free life.

    One hopes that FIFA/Uefa/The FA have programmes in place to offer help to anyone who might need it.

  • Comment number 41.

    Phil,

    Your acknowledgement of the horror of depression stands you in good stead. Sadly the rest of your comment seems to just show you as some one who is inately jealous of people who have a talent.
    Some people can't cope with the adulation or perhaps the pressure of thousands of people trusting you with their happiness for the rest of the week. Ask a Man City fan how they feel after last season's matches against Man Utd. All of this would have weighed on his mind and to him, and lets face it, it is a very individual disease, the pressures, allied with his perceived view of his problem as a mental illness, was too much.
    Those many footballers that you have seen flashing the cash are at ease with themselves. Some of them are probably too shallow to think of anything or anybody else. Perhaps we should feel sorry for them as well. I probably wouldn't though!

  • Comment number 42.

    Phil, I don't think you have very accurate views on depression. You can't just look at somebody, see they have what you feel is a nice life with plenty money and adulation, and assume everything with them is fine. Depression, obviously goes far deeper than that.

    His depression was not brought on by 'stresses and strains of being a footballer' as you said but, as Eleanor clearly states, the inability to deal with the death of his daughter. Nothing to do with being a 'molly cuddled footballer' but an inner torment of a tragic event which occurred in his life, surely you can see that. Or, because he was a successful footballer, should he have been able to deal with it better than your 'average joe'?

    If you think depression should be linked to income or quality of life, think of all the famous people who have taken their lives over the years. Or, better still, google suicide rates around the world. You'll see that Japan and Korea (two of the more developed & successful countries) are near the top. While almost all of the extremely impoverished nations are down at the bottom.

    Great blog Eleanor. Hope you do some more in the future.

  • Comment number 43.

    Depression is a horrible disease, but everyone should be entitled to treatment of an equal standard.

    -----------------------------------------

    That's not the way the world works Phil. You get the treatment you can afford. If someone is a multi-millionaire they are entitled to spend their money on getting the best health-care available. If these sports stars want to set up their own clinics to support other sick sports stars with lots of money - then let them, they are entitled to do so. Its not as if they are scooping money from the NHS and the tax payer. The vast majority are privately run charities.

    I would suggest they are different because unlike you and me they don't have to be on watch 24-7, having to worry about some scumbag photographing your kids and following you around Tesco. Its quite easy to be depressed, and then to travel off into obscurity whilst you get better - not so for your multi-millionaire pound sports star. Its a never ending process, hence the need to set up these clinics that are away from the ever watchful public eye.

  • Comment number 44.

    I agree with Alder's comments on the fact that footballers are under a LOT of pressure. Yes, they do get paid a lot of money but if they cannot enjoy playing whats the point?

  • Comment number 45.

    Ok, so lets just leave it at this - he is famous, so his depression and suicide means more than an average guys.

    Everyone on here, saying how sad it is - probably 90% of you never saw him play, but as he was famous, we should feel more sorry for him, than another guy who committed suicide but wasnt famous?

    Because he is a rich footballer he deserves better treatment?

    Interesting view points, that much is for sure!

  • Comment number 46.

    Phil its sad story for someone famous or otherwise its just that famous people enter our lives and we know something about them.

  • Comment number 47.

    Fantastic blog Eleanor. I am glad that this blog does highlight the mental pressures that any individual cannot cope with no matter what walk of life they are from. I think it was post 4 that touched on Marcus Trescothick's autobiography and I have read that and it opened my views completely on the illness. And I also want to say thanks to the bloggers who have also found this helpful to their own experiences and been open enough to admit they have the illness. I too have been diagnosed recently with depression and I met it with denial and shame as I saw it as a weakness that I shouldn't have. Reading this blog and the comments has made more confident enough to tackle it without fear.

    I find it amazing that some posts are of the theory 'they are rich and famous, what have they got to be depressed about?' depression isn't something people pick or choose to have. What is sad that it takes a tragic story such as Robert Enke's death to highlight how severe depression can be to professional athletes. I can't begin to imagine how Robert must have felt with the tragedy that he endured with his daughter.

    I hope sport in general can create a greater awareness of depression like it has done with diseases like cancer.

    RIP Robert

  • Comment number 48.

    Shame that he was driven to kill himself but even now I still think it was an extremely selfish way to kill himself.

  • Comment number 49.

    I remember Robert Enke. It was a shock to hear how he ended his life a year ago. At the same time I praised for his determination to make such uncommon decision. I lost my father 2 days ago who suffered for 5 years due to the mercy of Alheimer. I would think that Mr. Enke's condition must be too severed for him to manage his own affairs. I could not and would not know what was going through his mind. What made him to think that ending his life would be better for him and his family. I know perhaps he is in a better place now; however I do not know how his wife has been able to manage and cope with the situation. Let alone that a daughter will grow up without her father's love. I feel for the family.

  • Comment number 50.

    Phil, I understand your points but celebrities are more visible and it's natural for people to express their feelings over the issues of someone who is high profile and receives media coverage than a man in the street who doesn't. We all follow football, it gives us a sense of community, and in this case gives us a glimpse of a troubled and fallible man rather than a one-dimensional sporting hero. Depression is very common but is almost a taboo subject so for people to discuss it openly, albeit in tragic circumstances, is a positive thing. Hopefully such events can allow us to sympatise and understand those that are not famous.

    As a father I know the worst thing that could happen to me and my wife is the loss of one of my young sons but I cannot contemplate the unimaginable grief and sense of injustice that could affect the judgement of someone who does not suffer from mental illness, let alone someone who has a history of depression. It's easy to say his actions were selfish; by any normal reasoning that would be a fair comment. However, he was suffering from depression and grieving so judgment on such criteria is unfair. To be in a mental place where you are willing to take your own life is proof in itself that you have reached a point where you are no longer responsible for your own well being. Personally, I do not feel it's appropriate for me to be judgmental and this seems to be the opinion of most people here.

    It is a tragedy for the man, his widow and his child and this well-written and sympathetic blog ensures that such disturbing issues are still discussed.

  • Comment number 51.

    we all fans of sport lisboa benfica will never forget Robert Enke, the way he used to represent the club, not just as a sports person but as a human being was just one word to describe it ......RESPECT..... YOUR MEMORY WILL LIVE FOREVER....U WERE ONE OF THE VERY FEW THAT MADE US PROUD.....RIP ENKE......I personally cannot still come to terms with what u did..and why u did it... can understand the loss of your baby girl...but still believe that what u left behind... being...is still as important!

  • Comment number 52.

    A timely and thoughtful article.

    I too lost a young daughter to illness. It took me almost 6 years to admit I was struggling and ironically only sought help the week before Robert Enke decided he could take no more. Many in society expect men in particular - but also many women - to put on a brave face. After a few days/weeks/months they forget the pain and suffering and move on with their own lives. Sometimes, even a careless or throwaway comment can be a trigger for we bereaved parents - such as christening or birthday photos. In my case, it was teaching a friend of my daughter's so long after the event. At times, we struggle from day to day, but ayt other times we can be on top of the world.

    Robert Enke shows that depression and grief are long lasting and often overlooked issues. RIP

  • Comment number 53.

    I felt compelled to comment because I feel many of the other comments people have posted highlight exactly the problem Enke faced.
    It's not about the 'stresses and strains' of life or the 'pressure of football'.
    One poster even talked about the everyday pressures 'normal' people face - bills, mortgages etc.
    All the above totally miss the point.
    Depression is a physical and debilatating illness that can't just be explained away in passing.
    Enke's story is tragic but hopefully it will go some way to opening people's eyes to depression and what it really is.

  • Comment number 54.

    Depression is an illness. Its not one that goes away with a few days in bed, sipping lemsip. It can make the sufferer terribly unhappy and yes, suicidal. Like the poor case of Robert, its very sad.

    But the trouble with most illnesses, with no visible outward symptons, its often ridiculed and taken as a show of weakness. Take ME for instance. A few years ago, some doctors would look at you as if you just wasting their time. Look at the instances of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) in World War One. They, being the commanding officers, saw it as cowardice. And punishable by firing squad. Its REAL and often a horrible experience for the sufferer.

    How many of you on here think that your manager would be sympathetic to you, if you reported as suffering from depression?

    Therin lies the problem. And its typical of the culture we live in.

  • Comment number 55.

    Very poignant story - drove home from work listening to it, then waited outside in car listening to the end of it, with tears in my eyes.

    Does anyone know whether the biography is available in english yet?

  • Comment number 56.

    People call suicide selfish and cowardly but I don't think it is, not always certainly.
    I also believe that in some cases you don't choose suicide, it chooses you. I don't know how someone who has never suffered serious depression or suicidal feelings can judge anyone who has.
    Thanks for the programme, I hope it made people think.

  • Comment number 57.

    Words cannot describe this very sad story. The death of his 2 year old daughter must have been totally unbearable as any parent losing a child would experience. To suffer from depression on top of this tragedy must have tipped him over the edge and caused him to end his life.

    I have to agree with Stuart_MCFC who states that in some cases that suicide chooses you. Indeed, there needs to be more research carried out into what causes and how one can more effectively treat mental illness.

    The picture I have of Robert Enke is that of a kind and loving man. My thoughts and prayers go out to his loved ones.

 

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