Saturday marks the third anniversary of Germany goalkeeper Robert Enke’s suicide after battling depression for years and his widow has launched a hotline for athletes suffering from similar problems.Hannover 96 star Enke was Germany’s first-choice goalkeeper when he took his life on November 10 2009, aged 32, having made eight appearances for Joachim Löw’s national team.
Set up in his memory, The Robert Enke Foundation, with his widow Teresa as chairman, now supports projects to educate the public about depression and heart disease in children.
Three years on from his death, there is evidence Enke’s suicide has softened attitudes in German football towards depression and other psychological illnesses.
Germany defender Dennis Aogo admitted suffering from depression at the start of the season, while Ralph Rangnick stepped down as Schalke 04 coach in September 2011 after suffering from burn-out.
More than a dozen footballers from the Bundesliga and second division have sought help for depression, according to the organisation Mental Strength.
Teresa Enke admits she may never get over his suicide, but is still receiving support from figures within the German Football Federation (DFB).
“I can never take something positive from his death,” she told the Bild newspaper having organised an event via Facebook to mark Saturday’s anniversary.
“I can only try to transform the negatives into positives.
“His chance means a chance to help others. I won’t get over his death; I just learn to live with it.”
Although she has said she wanted nothing more to do with football, Germany’s team manager Oliver Bierhoff and Theo Zwanziger, the former president of the German Football Federation (DFB), both contact her regularly.
“I don’t really want to have much to do with football, but I still get text messages from Zwanziger and Oliver Bierhoff is in touch, he calls me.”