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The sad story of Robert Enke: the former Barcelona goalkeeper who ended up committing suicide

Although many may not realize it, in the world of sports mental health is just as important as physical health (perhaps even more important). Little is said about how difficult it can be for elite athletes to deal with the enormous pressure and responsibility they have. Add to that a serious mental disorder such as depression and you have a perfect recipe for tragedy.

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Robert Enke was a German footballer born on August 24, 1977 in Jena. As a child he loved playing as a goalkeeper and made his professional debut for FC Carl Zeiss Jena in the 1995/1996 season. At that time, he began to live with something that comes very naturally to goalkeepers: mistakes. But Robert seemed to have a harder time dealing with them than the average player. Even so, he had potential, which is why he was a first-choice goalkeeper for several German national youth teams.

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After three years at Borussia Monchengladbach, he signed with Benfica. Gradually he adapted and began to have outstanding performances in the Portuguese league which endeared him to the fans. In 2002 his hard work was rewarded: FC Barcelona, a dream team for any footballer, signed him. However, the starting goalkeeper was Victor Valdes and Enke did not have the opportunity to make his debut until September 11, 2002, in a Copa del Rey match against Novelda (third division team). Unfortunately, that day Barcelona was eliminated in a humiliating way after losing 3-2. Enke was highly singled out by the sports press because of those three goals. That game marked him forever. He thought about quitting soccer and had to see a psychiatrist.

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In June 2003 he was discarded by Barcelona and after a disastrous spell at Fenerbahce, he was happy again playing soccer in Tenerife, where his daughter Lara was born. Then, thanks to outstanding performances at Hannover, he earned a starting place in the German national team. Things were going well, but gradually the specter of depression returned. The death of her daughter in 2006 (who was born with a heart malformation) did not help at all.

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After years of fighting his demons, Enke could take his own life no longer and took his own life on November 10, 2009. The news shocked the soccer world and fans who once insulted him were now paying tribute to him.

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