Robert Enke was a German football goalkeeper. Enke most notably played for Benfica and Barcelona, but made the majority of his appearances for Bundesliga side Hannover 96 in his homeland. He won eight full international caps for the German national team between the 1999 Confederations Cup and his death in 2009, and was part of the squad which finished as runners-up in Euro 2008. On the evening of 10 November 2009, Enke committed suicide. At the time of his death, he was widely considered to be a leading contender for the German number one spot at the 2010 World Cup.
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Robert Enke was signed by Borussia Mönchengladbach in the summer of 1996. Enke spent his first two seasons here with the club’s U-23 side, playing in the lower leagues, as well as for the Under-21 national team and honing his talent, studying the club’s number one goalkeeper Uwe Kamps. His chance came on the eve of the 1998–99 season when Uwe Kamps suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon and new coach Friedel Rausch gave Enke his big chance to finally make his club debut. His first Bundesliga game came on 15 August 1998 in a 3–0 win over Schalke 04 that put them top of the table. However, this position quickly changed as, despite Enke’s best efforts, fifteen goals were scored past him in just one week.
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With the international retirement of previous number one Jens Lehmann at Euro 2008, Enke was poised to make the position his own and played in several World Cup 2010 qualifiers. However, in October 2008, he broke the scaphoid of his left hand while training with the national team for a qualifier against Russia. After undergoing surgery, he was sidelined for two months, and was replaced by René Adler. Upon his return in January 2009, he again became the number one keeper in the national team. In September and October 2009, Enke was again out of action for several weeks. The reason given to the Hannover 96 coaching was an intestinal infection campylobacter, although it is revealed in Ronald Reng’s book A Life Too Short: The Tragic Story of Robert Enke that this was only partly true and in fact Enke’s depression had returned. He did not return to football until late October, as a result of which he was not called up for a friendly against Chile for which the national team was preparing when he died. This game was subsequently called off as a mark of respect to Enke. Prior to his daeth, Enke was expected to be Germany’s number one goalkeeper at the 2010 World Cup, ahead of Manuel Neuer. Enke died having won eight full international caps. His final international appearance came on 12 August 2009 when he kept a clean sheet against Azerbaijan.
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On the night of 10 November 2009, at the age of 32, Enke committed suicide when he stood in front of a regional express train at a level crossing in Eilvese, Neustadt am Rübenberge. Police confirmed a suicide note was discovered but would not publicise its details. His widow, Teresa, revealed that her husband had been suffering from depression for six years and was treated by a psychiatrist. Since then the German Football Association, Hannover 96 and the Deutsche Fußball Liga participate in a foundation in memory of Enke. The foundation deals primarily with mental health of players.