BERLIN - Germans - including Schalke 04 striker Kevin Kuranyi and Bayern Munich chief Franz Beckenbauer - reacted with shock and disbelief on Tuesday after national team keeper Robert Enke's suicide at a train crossing near Hanover.
According to Lower Saxony police the 32-year-old Hanover 96 was hit by a train at a crossing early on Tuesday evening, leaving fellow players, coaches and fans stunned by the news of his death.
"This can and must not be true," said Schalke 04 striker Kevin Kuranyi. "Robert was a fantastic guy."
Hamburg SV captain David Jarolim told Bild newspaper he was devastated.
"I can hardly breathe. This is a real tragedy, first his daughter and then this," Jarolim said.
Enke's two-year-old daughter died in 2006 due to a heart ailment, her death triggering an outpouring of sympathy for the family at the time.
"I am endlessly saddened by this," former Germany coach Franz Beckenbauer said. "When you receive such news all other things do not matter."
Enke, who was in the running to be Germany's starting goalkeeper at next year's World Cup in South Africa, had been at Hanover since 2004.
"This is terrible. I am not able at the moment to express myself in more detail," said Hanover 96 sports director Joerg Schmadtke.
German national team manager Oliver Bierhoff said the team, gathered ahead of a friendly match against Chile in Cologne, was in a state of shock."
"We are just all speechless," said Bierhoff.
Enke had been suffering from depression since 2003 but had not confided in anyone other than his close family and his personal psychiatrist.
"He was afraid to go public with his depression because he feared he could lose everything, in football and privately," said his wife Teresa. "Football was everything to him. It was his life, his elixir."
His sudden death left players and football officials in shock.
"I am stunned. I am at loss for words," said Germany captain Michael Ballack.
"I find it hard to describe my feelings, I am totally shocked, totally empty," Germany coach Joachim Low added.
"His death is an immense loss. We will miss him as a first-rate athlete and an exceptional human being."
Enke, who was in the running to be Germany's starting goalkeeper at next year's World Cup in South Africa, had not been not picked for a friendly match against Chile on Saturday. The game was called off following his death.
"You may comment on whether the decision (to cancel the match) was right or wrong," Bierhoff told reporters, his voice breaking.
Stuttering and unable to hold back tears, he continued: "But you were not...you were not in this circle...and the players felt just like me."
Enke's death triggered an outpouring of sympathy, with FIFA president Sepp Blatter saying his "thoughts are with the family and we hope they will find the strength to deal with the pain".
German football federation chief Theo Zwanziger said: "The question 'Why' has been accompanying us since last night. We will not be able to answer this question quickly but we owe it to him...to work towards an answer why professional athletes, celebrated as idols, can come to such a decision."