Robert Enke, the Hannover and Germany goalkeeper, killed himself by apparently intentionally getting hit by a train. He was 32.
|Robert Enke died at the age of 32 [GALLO/GETTY]
"It was suicide,'' Enke's agent Joerg Neblung said. "I don't want to talk about the possible reasons today.''
Police said Enke died after being hit by a train at a level crossing northwest of Hannover, not far from his home.
Enke's car was found near the scene, unlocked, with his wallet on the seat.
The two train drivers reported seeing a man on the tracks and applied the brakes while travelling at about 160 kph but could not stop in time, police reported.
After Hannover president Martin Kind confirmed Enke's death, the police released a statement saying he was fatally injured after being hit by a train.
"The first police indications are that it was a suicide,'' the statement said.
Kind said Enke had been "unstable'' recently, but that it had not been publicly noticed.
"You expect many things, but not something like that,'' he said.
"I do not know how and why it happened, but I do not think that it had anything to do with football.''
Enke had been diagnosed with a bacterial stomach ailment and missed nine
weeks before returning 11 days ago and playing two Bundesliga games.
He had not been selected for Germany's friendlies against Chile on Saturday and Ivory Coast next week.
But coach Joachim Loew had said Enke remained the leading candidate to be Germany's goalkeeper at next year's World Cup in South Africa.
"We are all shocked,'' said Germany manager Oliver Bierhoff in Bonn, where the national team assembled.
Enke played eight matches for Germany. He made his debut in March 2007 in
a 1-0 loss to Denmark.
His last game was on August 12 in a 2-0 win over Azerbaijan. He had played 196 Bundesliga games.
After Jens Lehmann retired following the European Championship in 2008, Enke was promoted to No. 1 for Germany, but was set back by a broken hand.
Enke's career included several foreign clubs, among them CD Teneriffa, Fenerbahce, Barcelona and Benfica.
He also played for Borussia Moenchengladbach, after starting his career as a youngster in Jena, former East Germany.
Enke and his wife lost their 2-year-old daughter to a heart ailment in 2006.
The couple adopted a girl in May, who was now eight months old.
"We are speechless,'' German football federation president Theo Zwanziger said.
"Our sympathies are with Robert Enke's wife and his family.''
Hundreds of fans lit candles and placed flowers outside the Hannover stadium late Tuesday.