"I suppose, it has to be my destiny that everything in my career has to be weird. Just sometimes, I wish it would have been a tiny bit easier." Those were the words from Robert Enke in an interview with The National just two months ago. The German longed for a simple life, hiding a secret that cost him his life. He was first treated for depression in 2003 after a dream move to Barcelona turned into a disaster.
But it got worse when his daughter, Lara, was born with a rare heart condition a year later. He spent as much time in the hospital as he did on the training pitch. She died in 2006 from a defective heart valve. Even though he and his wife Teresa adopted a baby girl, Leila, in May, it was hard to heal the pain of the past. His car key ring had a picture of Lara and his daughter was never far from his thoughts. The spot where he committed suicide on Tuesday at the age of 32 was at a train crossing just 200 metres from her grave.
An emotional Teresa Enke said yesterday: "I tried to be there for him. I said there are many beautiful things in life. It is not hopeless. We had Lara, we have Leila. "After Lara's death everything drew us closer together. We thought we could do everything and we could do it with love, but you can't always do it. I wanted to help him to get through it. He didn't want to accept help any more." Enke's psychologist, Dr Valentin Markser, confirmed he had been providing daily treatment for months to help ease his depression and a fear of failure. In a suicide note, the player apologised for deliberately misleading people into believing he was better.
As Germany called off Saturday's friendly with Chile as a mark of respect, Oliver Bierhoff, the team manager, said: "The team want to say goodbye to Robert. "It could have been a goodbye game, but there is a clear feeling that it would come too early." Germany's 1974 World Cup winner Franz Beckenbauer told the Bild newspaper: "I feel endless loss and sorrow. When you receive news such as this, all other problems seem small."
The Germany captain Michael Ballack said: "I am stunned. I am at loss for words." The national team coach Joachim Loew added: "I find it hard to describe my feelings, I am totally shocked, totally empty. His death is an immense loss. We will miss him as a first-rate athlete and an exceptional human being." Next year's World Cup finals were supposed to be the culmination of everything Enke had worked for in his career. It was 10 years ago when he received his first call up for Germany, but 2007 when he made his debut against Denmark. After years of waiting in the wings, a reserve to Oliver Kahn and then Jens Lehmann, he was finally his country's No1 keeper and ready to star on the biggest stage.
At his first club Benfica, Enke was touted as one of the best keepers in the world. Barcelona signed him in 2002, but it was the start of the troubled times. He failed to claim a regular place at the Camp Nou and endured more unhappiness on loan to Fenerbahce, refusing to play after he was attacked by bottles from his own fans. After a brief spell at Tenerife, he returned to Germany with Hannover 96. His form returned and he was named the Bundesliga's best keeper last season.
"Football was everything," said Teresa. "It was his life. The team gave him security. When he started to get better, he said it's so nice to be part of the team again." Sadly, football was not enough to save him. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org