Friday, November 13, 2009

The death of German international Robert Enke on Tuesday stunned football when the sad news came out that he had taken his own life by stepping in front of an oncoming train.

Enke had been suffering from depression since 2003 and had suffered the agony of losing his daughter in 2006 to a rare heart decision. Most that knew him would not have known his suffering as he tried to keep his mental illness out of the public eye.

Suicide is always a shocking experience to those that are left behind. When former Fife player Paul McGrillen took his own life in August (see Blog of August 3rd), it was a stunning shock to all that knew him and knew of him.

Enke's death just made me think about how much abuse we give certain players on the pitch. I'm sure I'm not alone in admitting guilt in this respect.

When we're dishing out the abuse, we never stop to think if it really is just trying to get under the player's skin or whether he may be truly hurt, disturbed and mentally unsettled by what is being said. We don't know what kind of mental anguish or problems they may be facing in their private life, for it is just that - private.

Earlier this season, the abuse meted out to East Fife goalie Michael Brown was pretty bad at times. It later came out that he was going through a very trying time off the pitch due to family illness. I'm sure the abuse didn't help.

Some may argue that if a player feels that he is ready to play, pulls on that jersey and takes to the pitch, then all is fair. Players like Enke clearly wanted to play to help take his mind off these other things. It was his escape to the harsh realities he faced at home and which finally pushed him over the edge.

Perhaps next time, before we all abuse a certain player, maybe we should take a step back and think how we would react if we were on the other end of such abuse. I know it'll make me think twice about certain things in the future.

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