Jörg Schmadtke takes stock before leaving the football business. The sports director of VfL Wolfsburg thinks back to the most difficult time.
After 38 years as a goalkeeper, assistant coach and manager in German professional football, Jörg Schmadtke will end his career on January 31st. In an interview with the “Wolfsburger Allgemeine Zeitung”, the sports director of VfL Wolfsburg described the suicide of national goalkeeper Robert Enke in November 2009 as the “biggest blow to the neck” of this long career.
“It was a very hard blow. But in this situation I had to work, think about how to find the best solution for this situation. From today’s perspective, many things might be done differently…” said the 58-year-old, who At that time he was still sports director of the Enke-Club Hannover 96. “The fact that the players carry out the coffin” is an example. “But when you’re in charge and you have to make the decisions, you don’t know what the impact will be.”
Enke’s death sharpened his sense of depression, explained Schmadtke. “But I think that this bad story could not have been prevented, unfortunately.”
pressure to perform remained the same
But now “the level of care is better. The openness to talk about mental illnesses has increased,” said the experienced football manager. “But the pressure to perform, which was also created by some media, has remained the same, nothing has changed there. And those who propagated it the most flew over the stadium in a lightweight aircraft as Robert Enke’s coffin was laid out in the stadium. There’s a lot of Pharisaism there.”
The time after Enke’s death also shaped his relationship with Hanover’s professional football boss Martin Kind, said Schmadtke. “Together we tried to overcome this bad event. We had and have a good relationship. I like him,” said Schmadtke about the child. “I really appreciated the discussions with him. There was no fidgeting with him. He’s very reliable.”
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