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Robert Enke, One of the Last Defenders

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Once in a while, I’m teasing a friend from Portugal. Portugal is the country where the evening news start with soccer results, and more soccer results, and lots of backgrounders, and comments from coaches and managers, and outfield players, and of course the last defenders. And may be after tons of information of that kind, the Portuguese will be informed about a big tax reform, rates of unemployment, or the death of their president (if their president passed away).

I won’t tease my Portuguese friend again. Maybe the Portuguese are a bit dumber than us, but we will soon catch up with them.

Robert Enke was a German football goalkeeper. He played at Barcelona, Benfica Lisbon, and Fenerbahce Istanbul, and until Tuesday, at Hannover 96. He was also one of the German national soccer team’s goalkeepers.

He was 32 years old when he died. He used a train and its drivers to get killed. In the media accounts, he “apparently threw himself in front of a train”. Or maybe he just stood there and waited for the train to hit him.

Bishop Margot Käßmann, recently elected to lead Germany’s Lutherans (“church must be where the citizens are. This is true for the sunday services, but also for radio and television”) led an initial memorial service in Hannover.

Enke and his wife had suffered a stroke from fate when they lost their daughter at an age of only two, and Enke had suffered from depressions for several years.

Now, everyone is very sad, which brings a line from the incomparable British Queen to my mind, after the death of Princess Diana, and H.M.’s immanent beheading for not showing her feelings (or so it appeared):

“Millions of others who never met her, but felt they knew her, will remember her. I for one believe there are lessons to be drawn from her life and from the extraordinary and moving reaction to her death.”

Can there be a more subtle way to criticize a howling mob?

Robert Enke was probably an admirable man. Even more so, as he was ambitious, but not showy. He played a constructive role in public life, without the annoying attitude of a popstar. And he did his job as a last defender as long as he could. That he didn’t seek help when he needed it is a tragedy, but no exceptional tragedy.

Let’s hope that the train drivers – one colleague was making another familiar with the section around Hannover when their train struck Robert Enke – will be able continue their work, without a trauma. Very little is said about them.

And let’s hope that Mr Enke’s widow, Teresa Enke, will get what she asked the fans for: a funeral limited to family people and close friends. It’s a natural and legitimate request.

The fans should figure out someone who actually needs their sympathy. A soccer club is no family.

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Written by taide

November 14, 2009 at 10:22 am

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