Even though I’d count myself as a knowledgable football fan I wasn’t too aware of who Robert Enke was until he sadly took his own life on the 10th November 2009 by stepping in front of a passing train. Enke was a German goalkeeper who played for Barcelona, Benefica, and a number of other top European clubs. As a fellow struggler of depression I was interested to read Robert Reng’s award-winning account of Enke’s life, A Life Too Short.
Robert Reng was a close friend who spent a lot of time using his own memories of time with Robert Enke, his wife Teresa, and Robert Enke’s personal diaries. The book follows Enke’s life and career, sharing the highs and lows of being a professional footballer, but showing the human side of footballer’s, in this case, someone who even whilst his career was on the up, struggled with anxiety and depression. The book is challenging to read – I really felt for Enke at a couple of points in the book – the match he played for Barcelona against Novelda where he and his team imploded; the moment he and Teresa lost their first child due to a heart defect; the fear that sharing about his depression would lead to his adopted daughter being taken away.
The book highlights that regardless of outside success – in his case being the German national goalkeeper – it means nothing when the inner turmoil of depression exists. It was the well deserved winner of the William Hill Sports Book in 2011, and if you haven’t read it, do grab hold of a copy, it will certainly be one of the best football biographies you will ever read.