Home > The Book Club > A Life Too Short: The Tragedy of Robert Enke

A Life Too Short: The Tragedy of Robert Enke


With thoughts turning to books of the year, I’m sure listed in many people’s 2011 choices, including my own, will be Ronald Reng’s book ‘A Life Too Short: The Tragedy of Robert Enke’. It will be listed in the sporting category but it is much more than just a sports book as it tells the tale of the battle that Robert Enke fought with depression, a battle that the German international goalkeeper ultimately lost, taking his own life in 2009.

Told by his friend Ronald Reng, it pieces together Enke’s life, both sporting and personal, through interviews with family, friends and former teammates. It is a heart breaking tale with the concluding chapter not one to be read on the journey into work unless you want fellow commuters wondering why they can see tears. It is an insight into those suffering from depression and how it affects those around them.

The book traces Enke’s life and his footballing career that began with Carl Zeiss Jena and then Borussia Monchengladbach in Germany before his successful time at Benfica. It also details his disastrous time at Barcelona and Fenerbache where his depression first surfaced before his footballing redemption began in Tenerife and back in the Bundesliga with Hannover 96. It was at this point in his career in the run up to the 2010 World Cup that he became the German number one goalkeeper before lapsing back into depression resulting in him taking his own life.

From a sporting point of view, the book gives a great insight into being a goalkeeper in the modern game with discussions on the various styles of goal keeping, the different training undertaken compared with outfield players and more than enough detail on goalkeeping gloves!

It is interesting to ponder whether Enke’s path would have been different if he hadn’t debuted for Barcelona when they were knocked out of the Spanish Cup by third division side Novelda. It is easy to blame Frank de Boer and Louis Van Gaal as the reasons for his disastrous time at Barcelona when Enke spiralled into a cycle of depression before his ill-fated move to Fenerbache. The death of Enke’s two-year-old daughter is another defining moment in Enke’s life.

Reng outlines how there are no easy answers as to why Enke stepped in front of a train leaving behind a wife and child. It is a sad but fascinating story as throughout the book it is clear what a decent, caring and thoughtful individual Enke was.

This month is the two-year anniversary of Enke’s death and, on the weekend that a Bundesliga match was postponed due to the attempted suicide by the match referee, there is still so much that we have to learn about depression and the mental struggles many people face every day. This book goes someway to helping to understand.

To hear a Newstalk interview with the book’s author click on the link below.

http://media.newstalk.ie/podcast/26532/

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