Category Archives: Hannover 96

Bundesliga Review: Hannover spectacular in second half show by Archie Rhind-Tutt

Hannover embarked on a 17-minute goal blitz on Sunday despite a continuing saga over Mirko Slomka’s contract

It’s half time at the Mercedes-Benz Arena early on Sunday evening. Stuttgart lead by two goals to nil having been in control for nearly the whole of the first half. The away side, Hannover, have been particularly limp thus far. Coach Mirko Slomka needs something special to turn around this deficit, especially with his side’s recent record away from home. “The 96” only won twice on the road last season but had already been victorious away once this year, beating Lower Saxony rivals Wolfsburg 4-0.

That day Szabolcs Huszti set up all four goals. The Hungarian has undoubtedly been Hannover’s star man this season. No player has more assists in the Bundesliga but on Sunday, he was having a shocker. Shackled effectively by Stuttgart’s Zdravko Kuzmanovic, the diminutive playmaker was struggling to have an impact. To make matters worse, he gave away the penalty which led to the Swabians second goal.

Mirko Slomka’s seen enough. Huszti comes off at half time with Jan Schlaudraff replacing him. Now, if you’d said in September that Hannover would be able to mount a comeback from two down without Huszti, you would have been afforded a patronising expression. On Sunday though, Mirko Slomka’s side learnt to fly without this season’s talisman. Looking at the attacking talent Hannover have at their disposal, that’s not too surprising. The manner in which they did it was.

Three minutes from the hour, Artur Sobiech capitalised on Sven Ulreich’s parry to halve the deficit, as the Pole set in motion a 17-minute blitz. Seven minutes later came a penalty, which substitute Jan Schlaudraff stroked into the top corner and Hannover President Martin Kind revealed after the game that he would have been happy with a draw. Thankfully for him, the players weren’t.

Just over two minutes later, Hannover led for the first time as another substitute, Mohamed Abdellaoue prodded home. After more clumsy defending from Stuttgart, the man nicknamed “Moa” added a fourth from the penalty spot as the Norwegian completed a most remarkable turnaround – 4-2 to Hannover.

Whilst it would be great to say it was all down to Hannover’s brilliance, it was an equally spectacular implosion from hosts Stuttgart. Bruno Labbadia’s side suffered their first defeat in six and they certainly did it in some style. This was the first time the Swabians had lost after having a two goal lead in 457 Bundesliga games – a run that stretches back to 1999. This result shouldn’t derail their season but uncertainty will remain so long as the contract situation of Coach Bruno Labbadia is unresolved, with his contract expiring at the end of the season.

That situation is mirrored in Hannover where Mirko Slomka is yet to agree terms with the 96. According to Kicker, contract talks have been put on hold until the winter break and Slomka has until the 20th December to decide if he wants to stay in Lower Saxony or move on to pastures new.

After Sunday’s showing, Slomka said the contract is not ready to be signed but with Hannover performing well under his guidance, the club will be keen to keep him. There have been rumours of fall outs with general manager Jorg Schmadtke but Hannover has reached new heights with the Slomka/Schmadtke combination. Reports have linked Slomka with Bayern Munich, such has been his success in Lower Saxony. The Stuttgart result has put them within two points of the top four and in turn a Champions League spot. That’s the aim for ambitious Hannover and they’ll have a better chance of achieving that if Mirko Slomka stays with them.

For more on the Bundesliga, follow @archiert1 on Twitter

Eleswhere in the Bundesliga

  • As if one six goal thriller wasn’t enough on Sunday, Greuther Fürth and Borussia Mönchengladbach served up another. This one had two red cards, two penalties and Gladbach recovering from 2-1 down to win 4-2, leaving their promoted opponents struggling in the relegation zone. The other game on Sunday wasn’t bad either as Wolfsburg swept past the in-form Bayer Leverkusen with Diego turning on the style for the Wolves. He struck twice in the first half as Wolfsburg raced into what would prove an unassailable three goal lead.
  • The rest of the weekend went largely by the coupon. Dortmund beat Augsburg with Marco Reus’ stunning free kick the highlight. Bayern went past Eintracht Frankfurt with Bastian Schweinsteiger’s dive for a second half penalty the lowlight. Second place Schalke came from behind to get past Werder though there was controversy towards the end. Bremen’s Theodor Gebre Selassie had a back heel flick just cleared off the line. Some claimed it had crossed, some people thought it hadn’t. You know the drill with goal line technology, right?
  • Meanwhile in mid-table, Mainz beat Nuremberg on Friday night whilst Fortuna and Hoffenheim shared the points on Saturday. In bore draw news, Freiburg and Hamburg played out a goalless draw but Paul Scharner (remember him!?) was sent off.

Matchday 11 Results:

Mainz 2-1 Nuremberg

Augsburg 1-3 Borussia Dortmund

Bayern Munich 2-0 Eintracht Frankfurt

Fortuna Düsseldorf 1-1 Hoffenheim

Freiburg 0-0 Hamburg

Schalke 2-1 Werder Bremen

Wolfsburg 3-1 Bayer Leverkusen

Fürth 2-4 Gladbach

Stuttgart 2-4 Hannover

Table:

Rank Club Matches W* D* L* G* GD* Pts.*
1 FC Bayern Munich 11 10 0 1 32:4 +28 30 CL*
2 FC Schalke 04 11 7 2 2 22:12 +10 23 CL*
3 Eintracht Frankfurt 11 6 2 3 21:16 +5 20 CL*
4 Borussia Dortmund 11 5 4 2 23:12 +11 19 CL* Qual.
5 Bayer 04 Leverkusen 11 5 3 3 19:17 +2 18 EL* Qual.
6 Hannover 96 11 5 2 4 24:18 +6 17 EL* Qual.
7 1. FSV Mainz 05 11 5 2 4 15:13 +2 17
8 Borussia Mönchengladbach 11 4 4 3 17:21 -4 16
9 SV Werder Bremen 11 4 2 5 18:17 +1 14
10 Hamburger SV 11 4 2 5 11:14 -3 14
11 SC Freiburg 11 3 4 4 14:13 +1 13
12 VfB Stuttgart 11 3 4 4 12:19 -7 13
13 1899 Hoffenheim 11 3 3 5 17:23 -6 12
14 Fortuna Düsseldorf 11 2 5 4 10:16 -6 11
15 1. FC Nuremberg 11 3 2 6 9:17 -8 11
16 VfL Wolfsburg 11 3 2 6 9:18 -9 11 Play-offs
17 Greuther Fürth 11 1 4 6 9:20 -11 7 Relegation
18 FC Augsburg 11 1 3 7 6:18 -12 6 Relegation

Table from official Bundesliga Website

Article originally written @Football Fan Cast

Remembering Robert Enke – Three Years On

Today we remember Hannover 96 goalkeeper Robert Enke who took his own life 3-years ago after suffering from serious depression.

Please check out articles and podcast we have done on the life and loss of Robert:

Review of ‘A Life Too Short’: http://www.bundesligalounge.com/archives/44

Tribute podcast from 2011: The Bundesliga Show Episide 40 – Remembering Robert Enke

Bundesliga Weekender: Cologne, Bielefeld and Hannover by Chris Lines

Chris Lines from Narrow The Angle took the plane to Düsseldorf and embarked on a Bundesliga weekend. Here’s what happened.

Something of a late convert to the charms of German football, I’ve admired the Bundesliga from a distance for a couple of years. But it was high time I made a trip over there and saw some action first hand.

Myself and a mate took a train from Waterloo to Southampton, where we were to meet another friend of his (whom I had never met) and fly to Düsseldorf, ahead of a heady weekend of three games in three divisions in three days – Cologne v Kaiserslautern, Bielefeld v Heidenheim, Hannover v ‘Gladbach.

Any mild apprehension about going on holiday with someone I’d not met was immediately quashed when said friend met us off the train at Southampton Airport with three ice-cold bottles of Krombacher and hearty sausage sandwiches all round. It turns out that this is a highly effective way of gaining my immediate trust and respect. After this impromptu picnic we were soon boarding.

Our Flybe aircraft to Düsseldorf could be best described as “funsize” but it did the job and got us there in little over an hour. Straight through passport control with no queue – hello Germany – we immediately whizzed off to Cologne on the train.

Our view at RheinEnergieStadion

Cologne v Kaiserslautern

A brief walk along the Rhine before we hopped on a tram to the RheinEnergieStadion. The tram was packed with fans, all of whom wore scarves and drank beer, but none of whom were in any way boorish or obnoxious – how refreshing.

Forty-five thousand people packed into the ground as the sky darkens and the stadium’s four distinctive corner pillars light up is a cracking sight. From our seats in the upper tier I took in this impressive vista. Fans of each team were making an almighty din in terraces at both ends of the grounds, while huge flags were waved with gusto among the throng of fans. They even appeared to rotate the bigger flags throughout the game, so that each impressive banner was given an airing.

It had been a rush to get from train to plane to train to tram to game – just as well then that we’d spent much of the travelling time consuming whatever premium German lager we could get our hands on, because we sure as heck weren’t going to be getting a beer at the ground in the few minutes we had before kick-off – curse you pesky arena card system. Handy for the regular punter as these prepaid cards are, they’re also the scourge of the time-poor tourist. Still, we were nicely merry by the time we took our seats – just as well given the temperature had plummeted to -1C. My fingerless gloves did a passable impression of mittens as my fingers retreated inside the gloves and away from the chill.

"Can you point me in the direction of the Baa"

The game itself was an absolute belter; the standard of play very high given this was a Bundesliga 2 game. The first-half performance of Kaiserslautern’s Alexander Baumjohann turned out to be the stand-out performance of our whole trip. For 45 minutes he was simply brilliant, constantly ghosting into space, sliding passes through small gaps and scoring an impressive opener over the top of Cologne keeper Timo Horn’s head. Sadly his influence waned in the second period, but he’d won over three new fans in our travelling party without question. And what a cool name: Baumjohann. Fun to say.

Other highlights among the six goals these sides shared were a great cut-inside-and-shot from Cologne’s Christian Clemens and a glorious header postage-stamped right into the top corner by Kaiserslautern’s Mohammadou ‘The Betzenberg Balotelli’ Idrissou, who also nicked a late equaliser to cap a giddy first 90 minutes of German football for this spectator. I was still catching my breath as Kaiserslautern’s players celebrated and high-fived with their delirious travelling army.

Out of the ground, onto a tram (of which there were many, ready to whisk away the thousands in wonderfully organised German fashion), a train, another tram and we were at our hotel in Bielefeld – my fifth city of the day, no less. Bags dumped and it was straight to the nearest tavern; a very cosy little place with friendly locals and an applaudable system of biro crosses on beermats by way of a bar tab. Just pass your beermat to the barmaid when you’re ready to pay: ace.

Large mural outside Schüco Arena

Bielefeld v Heidenheim

Saturday saw us take our time getting up – perhaps a key factor in our rather surprising lack of hangover. Waking up in the same city as our game for the day – what a treat – this would be a more relaxed affair than the day before. We arrived early at Arminia Bielefeld’s Schüco Arena to find fans standing around on the streets, most of whom were wearing several scarves, chatting and drinking crates of beer while they waited for the turnstiles to open.

Bielefeld have fallen on hard times of late and are now in the third tier of German football, but their hardcore support have not deserted them. A gang of scarf-bedecked youths crowded around a ghetto-blaster that pounded out German hard rock of the shouty-but-polished variety so favoured over here.

The travelling Heidenheim support

Come the game, a crowd of just under seven thousand had gathered, though it seemed a lot less in a stadium that holds 27,300. Most congregated on the terrace, which left the rest of the stadium decidedly barren. The terrace was making quite a noise though, which ensured the game had some atmosphere. Heidenheim had brought around 50 fans and were shunted away on a little terrace in the opposite corner.

In a game of few genuine chances, Bielefeld edged it 1-0 thanks to a deflected cross from left-back Stephan Salger. Attacking midfielder Patrick Schönfeld caught the eye in midfield for the hosts but it was centre-back and captain Manuel Hornig who really stood out as the pick of the bunch. His was a faultless display, both positionally and in his strong tackling throughout. He looked like the ideal leader to spearhead the battle to get back into Bundesliga 2.

 

Inside the AWD-Arena

Hannover v Gladbach

Onward to Hannover after the game, where we hit the Old Town area and a tremendous bar, all wood panelling and German thirty-somethings getting nicely trashed. Two chaps at the bar had their drinks lined up in a wooden rack, like one might see loaded with vile aniseed-flavoured shooters in some terrible chain pub in England. But these guys each had a neat row of frothing half pints of the local Gilde Ratskeller beer – now that’s how to get drunk. Line ‘em up, chew the fat, get steadily drunk.

Sundays would appear to still be a sedate affair in Germany, compared to the relentless shop-a-thons they seem to have become in the UK. And so we made the excellent decision to stop drinking beer for a bit and see the sights, given the streets were almost deserted.

A wholly pleasant walk around Hannover made apparent two things: that this is really rather an attractive city, but also that it had clearly had the living daylights bombed out of it during the Second World War. Attractive older buildings tend to be outnumbered by more modern counterparts. For the most part, though, the city has done this tastefully with garish juxtaposition between the old and the new largely avoided. One old building was peppered with shrapnel scars up one side, a testament to the fact that a rather large bomb had evidently landed in roughly the same spot we were now standing.

As Hannover 96′s impressive AWD-Arena loomed into view, it’s surrounds were equally as pleasing as the actual stadium. This may be my favourite surrounding area of a ground that I’ve ever visited. As we wandered we saw a fan park, countless wurst and beer stalls and a big, brilliant supporters’ pub kitted out with big plasmas, as well as dozens of Hannover shirts and pennants. And (for sunnier days) there was a big plasma on the outside of the building too, with rows of bench seating for communal boozy viewing. If I hadn’t developed a soft spot for Hannover already, I had now.

Hannover fan pub

The game itself was pretty average first half – not much happened – but it burst into life in the second. Hannover raced into a two-goal lead through the mercurial Jan Schlaudraff and Mame Biram Diouf, before chucking it away and conceding three goals in nine minutes to a grateful Alvaro Dominguez, Roel Brouwers and Juan Arango. The winning goal from Arango (who played brilliantly) caught Hannover keeper Ron-Robert Zieler completely cold, feigning to cross before curling it near post and away from the goalie’s grasp. Hannover fans couldn’t believe what had happened, a fact not helped by the fact that the third goal saw a few hundred secret Gladbach fans incapable of containing their passions among the home support. No animosity on show from the Hannover fans, though, with frustrated shrugging the most common reaction.

What a cracking three days. No doubt I shall be returning before too long. Good trip, good football and – as a better and better-known European Football Weekender than myself would say – good old life.

Cheers!

Follow Chris on Twitter.

Bundesliga Review – Derby excitement tempered by Pezzoni incident By Archie Rhind-Tutt

 

Derbies – they are part of what makes not just the Bundesliga but football in general great. It’s there where all of the passion is poured out onto the pitch by both fans and players. This weekend the Bundesliga had no less than four of them on show. Not all of them were necessarily local – Bayern Munich and Stuttgart for instance are 136 miles apart.

The pair nevertheless make up the Southern derby (not to be confused with Nuremberg v Fürth which is the South derby). With Borussia Dortmund drawing with Nuremberg on Saturday, it was a great opportunity for Bayern to take an early lead over the Champions. They did just that, but not before Stuttgart were made to realise that Bayern are like the Incredible Hulk – you wouldn’t like them when they’re angry.

The Swabians hit the bar early on and then took the lead through Martin Harnik’s superb volley on 25 minutes. By half time, Stuttgart were trailing by two after Müller, Kroos and most spectacularly Luiz Gustavo, gave the Bavarians the lead their fans expected. In the second half, it continued with Müller (again), Mandzukic and Schweinsteiger ensuring last year’s runners up were 6-1 up just six minutes after half time. That’s how it stayed but there was still time for Vedad Ibisevic to be sent off, completing a bad start in the Bundesliga for the Bosnian after last week’s horrible miss.

Perhaps not for the last time this season though, Bayern went to the top of the Bundesliga. Still, they weren’t the only side to enjoy a Sunday roast. For the Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony) derby was more like the demolition derby as Hannover thumped Wolfsburg at the VW Arena.

This in itself was a surprise. After all, Hannover hadn’t won in Wolfsburg since 2006 and they weren’t great on the road last year, picking up just two away wins all season. The Wolves have also been tipped to do well this season and were expected to build on last weekend’s win at Stuttgart.

Still, Hannover are not a side to be underestimated, as they showed. Their star was Szabolcs Huszti. The Hungarian, who returned to the club after three years at Zenit St. Petersburg, set up all four goals for “The 96.” Karim Haggui and Artur Sobiech made it 2-0 before the break. In the second half, Leon Andreasen and Sobiech completed a fantastic day for Mirko Slomka’s men. Wolfsburg also had substitute Robin Knoche sent off in the second half and it was unsurprising when coach Felix Magath apologized to the fans after his side’s tame performance. After all, the Lower Saxony bragging rights were firmly with Hannover.

It wasn’t as clear cut in the Niederrhein (Lower Rhine) derby as Fortuna Düsseldorf and Borussia Mönchengladbach renewed rivalries in the Bundesliga for the first time in over 15 years. Yet neither was able to find a winner in a tight affair on Saturday evening. The match belied the ever entertaining nature of Fortuna Düsseldorf whilst for Gladbach, you can’t help but feel it was the sort of game they might have won, if they still had a certain Marco Reus. Still, the Foals look well set for the season, something which cannot be said of Hamburg.

HSV travelled to Werder Bremen in the Nordderby (North derby) but were outclassed for a second week running. With new signing Rafael van der Vaart watching on having returned from Spurs, Werder picked up from their encouraging performance at the Champions on the opening night of the season. Aaron Hunt had one penalty saved by René Adler, a definite positive for Hamburg in the new season. However, Adler was beaten by a second Hunt penalty in the second half and then by a Nils Petersen strike, ensuring that Werder and Hamburg were looking in different directions going into the international break. BILD even questioned after the result whether van der Vaart’s contract extends into the 2.Bundesliga – a cheeky and slightly premature jibe. Time is on their side but HSV’s start has been far from inspiring. Patience is thin on the ground with fans, as it is with many supporters these days.  Passion runs high which is what makes derby matches and indeed what made this weekend’s Bundesliga matches special.

However, we must be careful, especially after what happened to Kevin Pezzoni this week. Pezzoni was a player at another big club who have been going through hard times, that being Cologne who were relegated from the Bundesliga just a few months ago. He cancelled his contract this week after being threatened outside his home by a group of angry Cologne fans – an appalling development. So while fans displeasure at results is understandable, the Pezzoni incident certainly helped to put into context where football’s boundaries for passion lie.

For more on the Bundesliga, follow @archiert1 on Twitter

Matchday 2 Results:

Mainz 0-1 Fürth

Bayer Leverkusen 2-0 Freiburg

Hoffenheim 0-4 Eintracht Frankfurt

Nuremberg 1-1 Borussia Dortmund

Schalke 3-1 Augsburg

Werder Bremen 2-0 Hamburg

Fortuna Düsseldorf 0-0 Gladbach

Wolfsburg 0-4 Hannover

Bayern Munich 6-1 Stuttgart

Table

Position Club Games W* D* L* F:A GD* Points
1 FC Bayern Munich 2 2 0 0 9:1 +8 6 CL*
2 Eintracht Frankfurt 2 2 0 0 6:1 +5 6 CL*
3 Hannover 96 2 1 1 0 6:2 +4 4 CL*
4 FC Schalke 04 2 1 1 0 5:3 +2 4 CL* Qual.
5 Fortuna Düsseldorf 2 1 1 0 2:0 +2 4 EL* Qual.
6 Borussia Dortmund 2 1 1 0 3:2 +1 4 EL* Qual.
7 1. FC Nürnberg 2 1 1 0 2:1 +1 4
7 Borussia Mönchengladbach 2 1 1 0 2:1 +1 4
9 Bayer 04 Leverkusen 2 1 0 1 3:2 +1 3
9 SV Werder Bremen 2 1 0 1 3:2 +1 3
11 SpVgg Greuther Fürth 2 1 0 1 1:3 -2 3
12 VfL Wolfsburg 2 1 0 1 1:4 -3 3
13 1. FSV Mainz 05 2 0 1 1 1:2 -1 1
14 Sport-Club Freiburg 2 0 1 1 1:3 -2 1
15 Hamburger SV 2 0 0 2 0:3 -3 0
16 FC Augsburg 2 0 0 2 1:5 -4 0 Relegation
17 1899 Hoffenheim 2 0 0 2 1:6 -5 0 Relegation
18 VfB Stuttgart 2 0 0 2 1:7 -6 0 Relegation

Table thanks to the Bundesliga Official Website

Article originally written on Football Fan Cast

The Bundesliga Show Episode 42 – A mixed weekend of sadness and joy in the Bundesliga

This week on The Bundesliga Show, Terry Duffelen and Jon Hartley, talk about the big issues of Matchday 13 in the Bundesliga. It was a mixed weekend of emotions in the Bundesliga…sadness at the news of Referee Babak Rafati tried to take his own life before Cologne’s game with Hannover.

Also in the show, author and journalist Uli Hesse talks about the big match of the week between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.

The Bundesliga Show Episode 42 – A mixed weekend of sadness and joy in the Bundesliga by soundoffootball

Robert Enke: ‘A Life too Short’

One of the greatest tragedies in the Bundesliga in recent times was the death of Hannover 96 goalkeeper Robert Enke. Kyle Barber writes a review of Ronald Reng’s book about the troubled German international. 

November 10th, 2011 marks the two-year anniversary of Robert Enke’s decision to take his own life. At approximately 6.15pm, the affable German international stepped in front of the Bremen regional express in the village of Eilvese. He was just 32, and left an adoptive child, devoted wife, and close circle of friends behind; consigned to an overwhelming void of emptiness. Within sight of that two-year mark, Enke’s story has finally been translated into English, courtesy of the eloquence of one of his inner circle – Ronald Reng. Through Yellow Jersey Press, ‘A Life too Short’ is a sombre, reflective accomplishment of the spiralling tragedy that was Robert Enke. While many people know something about the man, few will be fully aware of his life, career, and nuances of his story, much less the taboo of depression that has, since his passing, been far more widely embraced and addressed by German football, and German sport.

In terms of his professional career, Enke was reaching his peak. He was established as the Nationalmannschaft number one – with eight caps and a seemingly nailed-on spot for the following year’s World Cup, was Club Captain at Hannover 96 (with almost 200 appearances behind him), and had been voted best goalkeeper for the 2008-09 Bundesliga season in what would be his last. He had had a successful three-year spell with Benfica, and been coveted by Europe’s elite – even receiving a call from Sir Alex Ferguson in 2002. He looked to have overcome an ill-fated season at Barcelona, and the decision to renege on a contract with Fenerbaçhe.

Personally, he was wed to his soulmate and teenage sweetheart – Teresa, had a healthy, well-natured adoptive daughter – Leila, a close-knit circle of friends, and was well-liked and respected by his peers and community. He had overcome the death of his first child – Lara (who suffered with a degenerative heart defect from birth), and seemed content; even happy to those who thought they knew him. Those who truly knew him knew differently.

So much of Enke’s life was regimented – even truncated – in nature; from his methodical precision to detail when it came to his gloves – two dozen pairs, with foam 7mm in thickness (1mm more than the norm), and the thumb seam on the outside to improve feel – through to the dates which book-ended his career and life – debuting on November 11th, 1995 against, of all teams, Hannover 96. Routine is certainly far from being an alien concept in any way, shape, or form for an elite athlete. But the interspersion of heartbreak he endured served in encouraging an introspection that darkened both him and his outlook on life.

Through his personal relationship with Enke, Reng is able to offer a deeper, less evasive profile. Dipping beneath the veiled façade of both the stereotypical ‘professional footballer’, and that masqueraded by the man himself. He chronicles how Enke’s depression was both realised and yet controlled through regimen, though effused with an inherent love and care that the ‘keeper had to give – “At home, Robert cleaned his gloves with shampoo under the shower, laid them out to dry and stroked smooth the soft foam of their surface”, a routine he repeated after every game; win, lose, or draw.

Ronald Reng himself is a multi-award winning author, and the effortless fluidity of his style is exceptionally reinforced throughout this text by a language that is both foreshortened and succinct. In-keeping with this approach, Reng is able to offer a portrayal that is not only vivid and true, but also helps encapsulate Enke’s mindset, and the micro-orbit in which he found himself constricted. It was that perception that manifested from around the age of 19, when he began harbouring the paradoxical fears of anonymity and of disappointing those around him. It was that dual spectre that would weigh on the East German’s broad shoulders for the best part of 14 years; his anxieties manifesting as depression – his Black Dog. Enke, though, became expert at using a tool pivotal to the cycle of depression. He became adept at presenting a serene front, a projected calm that betrayed his inner struggle. That illusion was unwittingly captured by his coach at Benfica – and now Head Coach at Bayern, the illustrious Jupp Heynckes – who described him as “calm, serenity, equilibrium, class”. At no point during the book does Reng ask that we sympathise with Enke. Nor does he seek to elicit empathy. Rather, and more credibly, he serves to present the man outside of the emotion, preferring to allow that feeling to infuse chapter and page.

“It’s the goalkeeper’s torture – the constant demand on him not to make a single mistake….a goalkeeper must be able to repress things”: such is the cross which the final line of any team’s defence must bear. Yet Enke’s interpretation of this expectation led him inextricably to a degree of self-reproach and self-deprecation that was the harbinger for his disease to fester and grow. Enke developed a self-perception and mindset that meant he would distort events in a way that would always vindicate the subservience he felt. As Reng charts, Enke – from the age of 17 – had a “life divided in two” between professional football and everyday life. And it was that separation that leant well to the inherent kindness and tenderness that he repressed as a sportsman, but exuded as a human being (he would write poetry for Teresa; something wonderfully encapsulated by Reng to supplement the descent he captures, as we are taken from the buoyancy of a birthday prose, to the admission of how “he no longer felt the joy…the contentment that comes from writing down one’s thoughts” to annotate the burgeoning numbness that gradually overcame him). In the early years of his career, he was able to switch off, to compartmentalise the alternative aspects of his life without detriment to either branch. However, as the toils of trying to establish himself as meriting a squad place in his own right began to wear him down physically and mentally – coupled with the sense of isolation he felt through living away from everything he knew and loved – that balance shifted. Not in a tangible way, but in the psyche of a young man desperate to please, and to drink in all that he saw; Enke spent hours aping the mannerisms and techniques of the likes of Oliver Kahn, Edwin van der Sar, Uwe Kamps. In truth, nobody had higher expectations of, or put greater pressure on him than he did. And the lack of release, of escapism, began to blinker his outlook as he started to become his own prisoner.

Reng was granted access to Enke’s diaries – they were to pen an autobiography together – by his widow, Teresa. And the use of Enke’s own words to animate the apparently inherent inner demons he suppressed is morbidly fascinating and well-pitched in its progression through the 390-page text:

11.08.2003
“I feel helpless and anxious, I’m afraid of people’s eyes”

16.01.2004
“At the moment I am happy and content. We had a really lovely New Year’s Eve…I laughed and danced – incredible!”

29.04.2009
“Leila entered our life….She is a ray of sunshine, and there was a sense of intimacy straight away!”

05.08.2009
“At the moment it’s incredibly hard to be positive. It hit me quite quickly and unexpectedly…need to open up. I know myself that it’s impossible.”

03.09.2009
“Didn’t sleep. Everything seems pointless. Thinking about S.”

02.11.2009
“Nothing but self-reproach.”

The fact that Reng opted to omit certain parts of that serialisation is testament to the strength of their friendship, his commitment to Robert’s memory, and in understandable deference to the emotions of his family. That he is still able to present an evocative, emotive reflection of a man lost in his own existence is credit to him. And it is with a sense of overt reticence that Reng prefaces his text by saying “Today I know why the [idea of writing a] biography was so close to his heart….he would finally be able to talk about his illness….Robert summoned up a huge amount of strength to keep his depression secret. He locked himself away in his illness”.

“His internal film ran incessantly….There was no final whistle for him”
12 months ago, over 45,000 people attended a memorial service to one of German football’s most reserved, self-effacing and yet undoubtedly talented individuals as a nation collectively mourned. Today, the DFB, German football, and German sport in general, is amongst those most clearly attempting to embrace and address the taboos of depression. In penning ‘A Life Too Short’, and making it accessible to an English-speaking audience, Ronald Reng has dutifully honoured the memory and passing of his close friend with an air of sober eloquence and intuitive positivity. In doing so, he acutely captures the essence of how Enke lost himself to depression, forever trapped by a moribund sense of insufficiency and futility that he alone lived. This year, on November 10th, lend a moment of contemplation to the memory of a man who will forever be 32; who will forever be tormented; and who left a deep, reverent hole in the lives of so many. And – as Reng counsels – consider that, irrespective of what standing someone may have, or the subjective image they may portray: “Most depressives who attempt suicide don’t want to die, they just want the darkness that defines their thoughts to disappear once and for all”. Do not judge without consideration nor, in the Words of Guardian journalist Amy Lawrence, be so quick to castigate without pausing to wonder. Depression is an area of taboo equivalent to those of racism and homophobia when it comes to elite sport, and is swept under the carpet all too readily.

But such is one of the facets of the disease of depression that it carries an element of Stockholm Syndrome about it too; with the prisoner harbouring a tacit comfort from the confines it devises for them. It can be seen as lending a security blanket through routine and fear of change. Enke thought, as most depressives do, that openly admitting to having a problem would be seen as a sign of weakness. That feeling was exacerbated by the cutthroat bubble of elite sport and, most likely, not too far from the sad reality at that time. What his death has done (‘achieved’ would seem too morbid a term to use) is open – just a little – the doorway for acceptance in today’s world. This weekend, the German National side take on Ukraine in a friendly. The players in that team will afford themselves a moment of contemplation in homage to the memory of their lost compatriot, and the whole of football should be encouraged to do likewise.

Profile – Mirko Slomka

To look at Hannover 96 coach Mirko Slomka is to look at a man who, seems a tad older than that he actually is. But, while Bundesliga fans fete younger coaches such as Thomas Tuchel at Mainz and Jurgen Klopp at Borussia Dortmund, it is perhaps easy to forget that Slomka will only be 44 this month and is still a young man.

However, football club management can take its toll and Slomka has been through a lot in his managerial career, hence the grey locks and emerging worry lines.

Not that the Hildeheim born Slomka seems worried by his lack of poster boy status. In fact, his somewhat reserved, off the pitch, profile seems consistent with his approach to football.  When asked by Sport 1 why he was not as celebrated as other coaches he replied. “I think it’s a good thing… The team has no star, we act as a collective. The same counts for me as the coach.” The sense of collective spirit is a key motivator, especially for clubs competing with limited resources and can act as a shield for the coach when the pressure is on and fans are calling for change.

After a modest career as a player, Slomka  began his coaching career at Hannover in charge of the Under 19s. After a brief sojourn to Tennis Borussia Berlin he returned to Hannover as assistant to Ralf Rangnick in 2001. Slomka was at Rangnick’s right hand through the teams promotion to the First Bundesliga and subsequent survival in the division. When the call came from Gelsenkirchen for Rangnick to have a crack at bringing the Salad Bowl to Schalke, Slomka joined him. When Rangnick left, Slonka succeeded him and embarked upon a journey that took the Konigsblauen to Champions League glory and to the very brink of success, domestically.

In his first full season in charge (2006/07) Schalke narrowly lost the title to Stuttgart. A heart wrenching 2-0 defeat to their hated rivals Borussia Dortmund played a significant role in their downfall. However, the following season Schalke finished in the quarter final of the Champions League after seeing off Porto in the Round of Sixteen. But, the Bundesliga trophy eluded Slomka and inevitably he was given his cards in April 2008.

Perhaps damaged, reputationally, Slomka did not return to work until nearly two years later and it was to his local club, his first club: Hannover 96. However, his return was at a time when the club was deep in crisis.

A dreadful start to the 2009/10 season saw off coach, Dieter Hecking. He was replaced by Andreas Bergmann who had been promoted from within. Tragedy struck  in November 2009 when goalkeeper Robert Enke took his life. With the club in crisis on the field and grieving off it, Bergamann moved to one side for Slomka to return.

The first win did not arrive until his seventh game in charge and that was down to an own goal by Freiburg’s Pappis Demba Cisse. They won five from their last even games, including a 4-2 thrashing of Slomka’s old team, Schalke and a 6-1 drubbing of Borussia Monchengladbach. Survival was only secured on the last day of the season with a 3-0 win at Bochum which sent the home side down in their stead.

Last season, Slomka has rebuilt Hannover and his reputation, steering his charges to a magnificent fourth place in the Bundesliga and only their second appearance in the Europa League.

Tactically Slomka is a pragmatist and not much of a fantasist.. “I’d rather win 2-0 than 7-4” he once told Der Spiegel (after watching his Schalke side beat Leverkusen 7-4). This pragmatism is evident with Hannover 96. A gloriously practical side who play on the break and with pace.

From the back, the former Manchester united Keeper Ron Robert Zieler is giving Sir Alex Ferguson cause to wonder if he may have made a rare mistake in letting the youngster leave Old Trafford. To watch Emanuel Pogatetz in the centre of defense is to watch a very different player to the one who laboured at Middelsbrough, in the Premier League. In the midfield, Konstantin Rausch and Sergio Pinto facilitate that transition of the ball from the back in good order.

Up top, the two front men (separated by injury somewhat this season) Mohamed Abdoulaye and Didier Konan Ya are battering rams with guile. Konan Ya is more obviously skillful but Moa’s directness belies his technique. According to Holger Ruhl (OptaFranz) the Norwegian had one of the best shots to goal ratio in the Bundesliga, last season. While he scored just the ten goals, in the last campaign, he is out of the starting blocks quickly this season. He scored that precious goal in Spain that helped see the 96ers through to the Group stages of the Europa League against a Sevilla side of whom you would have got fairly short odds to win the competition.

Slomka believes that Hannover can and should be a consistent top ten side, likening the club to Mainz or Freiburg in size and stature. Hardly a spectacular ambition but realistic and sensible for a club that has spent much of its recent history worrying about the bottom of the table. However, this season, he has a chance to boost the international profile of his club through the Europa League. This, in turn, may boost his own image, perhaps attracting the interest of bigger clubs and giving him a chance to have a crack at that Salad Bowl, once again.