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The death of Hannover 96 and Germany goalkeeper Robert Enke at the age of just thirty-two would have been a savage shock to anybody interested in international football regardless of the circumstances. The fact that his death is being widely reported as suicide is numbing. Our thoughts obviously are with his family and his friends at this time, and it would not be appropriate at this time comment much further on the specifics of what has happened this evening. We can, however, take a moment to appreciate a goalkeeper that was at the top of his game and who had broken into the absolute top of his profession.

His career took him from Borussia Mönchengladbach to Benfica then to Barcelona, Fenerbahce and Tenerife before returning to Germany to play for Hannover 96 (he had been their first choice goalkeeper there since 2004), where he became the club captain as well as succeeding Jens Lehmann in the German national squad. As with so many other goalkeepers, he seemed to improve with age and he would have been likely to have been at least in the running to keep goal for the national team at next years World Cup finals.

Away from football he was an avid supporter of PETA, which hints at a level of thoughtfulness not often associated with professional footballers, regardless of whether you are a supporter of their cause or not. The esteem in which he was held by his club has already been demonstrated this evening. His club’s web site has been replaced by a black curtain, and candles and flowers have been laid by supporters at the Niedersachsen Stadion. Dr Theo Zwanziger, president of the German FA, the DFB, said that the football community in Germany, “are deeply distressed and in mourning”, adding that, “all of our sympathy goes to the wife of Robert Enke and his family”.

And there isn’t a great deal more that we can add to that. Hannover 96, the Germany team and the community of football has lost one of its outstanding performers and we should all take a moment to mourn his passing.

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