RIP: Robert Enke: 24 August 1977- 10 November 2009
A sight never seen in Germany as tens of thousands turn AWD Arena into a church to pay their last respects to Robert Enke and to support his wife, Teresa a brave figure in black, who knew best her husband’s terrible depression and in the end could do little. She received a standing ovation.
45,000 fans attended the service which was attended by a host of politicians and sports personalities including former chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Juergen Klinsmann, Theo Zwanziger, and the German national team. A wreath was brought in by captain Michael Ballack and Per Mertesacker and laid beside the coffin. As Enke’s coffin was driven away, the anthem “You’ll Never Walk Alone” was played.
Theo Zwanziger, DFB president took the opportunity for more openness and to call attention that players are humans too.
“I think that Enke would have called on the fans to show more humanity and more civil courage, they should stand up to oppose the taboos that still exist in our professional sport,” Zwanziger said.
“Do not simply look at what sport seems to be. Think of what makes up a person, of weaknesses and doubts,” he added.
Enke’s death sparked a outpouring of grief in Germany and it has opened up a debate on how footballers cope with personal and professional issues. We see the player but do we see the person?
Many of us think that players with their inflated egos and salaries live life with blinkers on. We have gotten so used to their using denial, rationalization, and projection to defend their actions. Think about Adebayor, it was not love for the buck but being unloved at Arsenal that led him to City. But what if you live by different principles. Maybe for Enke, it was the opposite, a constant struggle for control that seemed tenuous. Losing a living, breathing daughter, the fear of a younger player taking his spot, or being injured left him vulnerable. And these fears without any of these protective defense mechanisms multiplied to the point that even his wife could not be of help. Enke turned on himself.