Ten years after the death of football goalkeeper Robert Enke ex-professional Jan Rosenthal has expressed in an interview with t-online.de on the current treatment of depression.
Football goalkeeper Robert Enke took on November 10, 2009 near Hannover at the age of 32 years, the life. One day later, Teresa Enke explained that her husband was suffering from severe depression. The memorial service for Enke then took place in front of nearly 40,000 spectators in the AWD Arena.
Ex-professional Jan Rosenthal played with Enke for Hannover 96 for almost five years. From 2005 on they fought together for points for the club, Enke in the goal, "Rosi", as his nickname, in the offensive. Meanwhile, Rosenthal, who ran aground 200 times in the Bundesliga, has ended his career.
Changes in dealing with depression
But how has the treatment of depression in the Bundesliga and in general in the population changed since the death of Enke? In an interview, Rosenthal gives his highly reflected assessment of the current state of affairs and talks about the positive effects of the Robert Enke Foundation,
t-online.de: Mr. Rosenthal, what has changed in your opinion since the death of your friend Robert Enke regarding the abatement and treatment of depression in professional sports – especially in the Bundesliga?
Jan Rosenthal (33): In the context of the Bundesliga, a big step forward has been made since the death of Robert. There is now a huge network of the Robert Enke Foundation. Today sports psychologists are represented in the junior performance centers of the clubs. Players with depression know who to turn to in their clubs and can sometimes even be treated as an outpatient in the normal training routine. Thus, they no longer necessarily have to be hospitalized and come up with a pseudo-injury that explains their absence from the club. That's a huge win.
Accordingly, dealing with the disease has changed for the better.
The disease is not a pure athlete subject, it is an overall social. Meanwhile, there is a certain openness to it – especially in football. Due to its social relevance, football even has a great opportunity to play a pioneering role in this regard. Players like Markus Miller and world stars like Gianluigi Buffon or Andres Iniesta have openly reported on periods of anxiety and depression. The goal must now be the broad acceptance of depression.
In 2006: Together Robert Enke (on the ball) and Jan Rosenthal fought for Hannover 96 for points in the Bundesliga – here in the game against Bayern. (Source: Pressefoto Baumann / imago images)
How is that achieved?
Footballers and all other people must be able to publicly confess to their illness, without being subsequently said about them: "Oh, he has a roof damage." Depression is a disease! And it's important that at some point she find the same acceptance as a ligament stretch or a torn ACL to stay on the subject of football.
They have even completed 200 games in the Bundesliga. Does not the system of professional football put unnecessary pressure on the players?
Professional sports leagues like the Bundesliga can not and should not change with regard to the basic idea: competitive sports are about performance. It will always stay that way. Due to the constant media monitoring and public evaluation professional footballers can feel a particular pressure, but one should not forget: People who may have to do several jobs in order to feed their family well, suffer partly from an existential pressure.
How important is it that you pay more attention to each other?
It is said that nearly 90 percent of competitive athletes suffer from anxiety or depression in phases. Highly gifted footballers are often sensitive. And if competitive sports were no longer beneficial for these sensitive people, we would not have the fine, extravagant footballers any more.
Exactly of these players lives the football.
The pressure in the Bundesliga is high, but not too high. You just have to give additional support to the more sensitive players, who may be less comfortable with pressure. And that works better and better, so my impression – but there is still a lot of room for improvement.
Sensitive people and the hard-hitting professional football. This connection does not seem to be accepted in all parts of society today.
For artists and musicians, it's okay for fans and promoters to be sensitive. Football is out of the story as the tough men's sport. But even as a footballer you must be able to show weakness – because this is normal and simply human.
What must be the next goal in dealing with the disease?
An even higher public acceptance of the disease, also in professional business. There are certainly many footballers today who know that they could be helped in their club – and yet they do not use them, because the personal inhibition threshold is too large. That's how it was with Robert back then.
In 2009, just a few days after the tragedy: The pros from Hannover 96 to Jan Rosenthal (3rd from left) were in the Bundesliga back on the field, remembered before the game of their former teammate. (Source: Team 2 / imago images)
What exactly do you mean?
Robert was number one in the goal of the German national team. He was sympathetic, funny, attentive, self-confident. He was popular and at the top. If, one might think, he could have made his illness public from this position. But he did not do it. Instead, the suicide followed. He was afraid of losing what he loves: football.
And as a professional you are in a very special situation. The fear of losing the very big dream – this is rare in normal working life.
You have to see that differentiated. For example, if you work in a small town and you stop at your job because you are being treated for depression and you openly say that – where is the difference? Unfortunately, in this case, too, one is often convicted. From the neighbors, the colleagues, overall the social environment. And that is not exactly what it should be. No matter if in football or elsewhere.
Is anything else important to you about what you want to get rid of on this topic?
Depression is a disease that is treatable and curable. One should not be afraid to go the way to the doctor. And we should all work to make sure that the disease continues to be negated. For example, people who are affected by their own environment have the courage to be treated professionally – to give them the feeling that this is totally okay. That is incredibly important. The suicide of Robert Enke shows us that it can hit anyone. We have to pay attention to each other.
Note: If you think much about your own death or worry about a fellow human being, you will find help here immediately and anonymously.