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November 12, 2009

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Germany in shock after Enke suicide

GERMANY goalkeeper Robert Enke, who committed suicide by jumping in front of an express train, was suffering from depression, his wife and his doctor said yesterday.

The 32-year-old Enke was hit by the train travelling at 160 kilometers per hour as it passed through a crossing near Hanover on its route between Hamburg and Bremen on Tuesday.

The German soccer federation (DFB) said Saturday's friendly with Chile had been scrapped because the players were in shock.

Enke's wife Teresa said the couple had tried to overcome years of depression through therapy.

"When he was acutely depressive it was a very difficult time because he lacked motivation and any hope of improvement," she told reporters.

Enke, who apologized in a suicide letter for hiding the condition leading up to his suicide, tried hard to keep his depression secret. His wife, dressed in black and struggling to hold back tears, said: "It is crazy because now it is coming out anyway. We thought we could do everything and we could do it with love but you can't always do it."

The DFB cancelled the Chile game saying it was necessary for the players and coaches to mourn.

"It was clear to everyone that we could not play," said DFB chief Theo Zwanziger.

"We need time to process all this," he told reporters.

Germany team manager Oliver Bierhoff broke down in tears after adding that Enke's depression had gone unnoticed by teammates and officials.

"I'm stunned. I don't know what to say," captain Michael Ballack told the Bild daily.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel contacted Enke's family.

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

Enke won eight international caps and was in the running to play at the World Cup in South Africa next year. His doctor had treated Enke since 2003, during a turbulent time when the keeper had several unsuccessful transfers to clubs in Spain and Turkey. "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.

Death of daughter

After years of battling injuries and personal issues, including the death of his two-year-old daughter due to a heart ailment in 2006, Enke finally appeared poised to grab the No. 1 spot in the national team.

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

He won his first cap in 2007.

After playing for Borussia Moenchengladbach, Enke had several stints abroad at Benfica, Barcelona, Fenerbahce and Tenerife before returning to the Bundesliga in 2004.

Barcelona held a minute's silence before dedicating its Copa del Rey victory over Cultural Leonesa to Enke on Tuesday, while Tenerife said its players would wear black armbands in its league match at the weekend.

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

The German soccer league said a minute's silence would be held on the next match day, with all players wearing black armbands.

Enke and his wife adopted an eight-month-old girl in May.


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