The story of Robert Enke is both tragic and distressing. It represented further proof, not that it should be needed, that footballers at the highest level are susceptible to mental health issues such as depression despite the glamorous lifestyles most lead, and that those of us on the outside can only dream of. Enke and his family and friends tried to hide his depression throughout his career, fearing public awareness of his condition would damage his reputation.
That they felt the need to take that course of action speaks volumes of the pressure professionals in any elite sport have to contend with. German football had already seen a high profile player suffer with depression. Sebastian Deisler was reckoned to be Germany's great white hope at the turn of the millennium having lit up the Bundesliga with Borussia Monchengladbach and Hertha Berlin.
Instead, Deisler arrived at Bayern Munich in 2002 on the back of successive knee injuries and would suffer at least one more major one which would restrict him to just 86 appearances in four and a half years. Deisler would also suffer bouts of depression for which he was treated in both 2003 and 2004. He would ultimately retire in 2007 and would later cite the pressure he was under at Bayern as a factor in his developing the illness.
The importance of A Life Too Short in relation to raising mental health awareness should not be underestimated. It is a cautionary tale not only for high level professional athletes of all disciplines but for people in general given the number of lives that have been affected by depression.
Some of Robert Enke's greatest saves. Source: dayandream YouTube channel.
Continue reading my review of Ronald Reng's A Life Too Short on Extratime.ie.