The memorial service for Robert Enke took place yesterday in Hannover's Niersachsen Stadion, where 45,000 people gathered to pay their respects to the former Hannover and Germany goalkeeper who took his life last week.
Enke was remembered in the silence of a stadium he was so used to playing in, celebrating the finest moments of his career as a goalkeeper for Hannover.
“Enke will never come into this stadium again, in this place where he stole our hearts as a sportsman, as a lead figure and captain of our team,” said Hannover's president Martin Kind in a moving tribute to a man who “only had friends”.
“Robert, you were the number one in the real meaning of the word,” Mr Kind said.
“That is why 50,000 people want to honour you, in your city, in your stadium.
“Enke was one of the outstanding personalities of German sport and the only consolation for me is that I had the fortune of working together with him.”
The common belief expressed by those who spoke at the service was that Enke's death should now serve as the catalyst to remove the stigma from depression, an illness that accounts for thousands of deaths each year.
“You can all do so much when you are prepared to stand up against evil, to speak out against injustice, and when you are prepared to break a taboo in society,” said German Football Association president Dr Theo Zwanziger.
Enke's wife Teresa fought back tears during an emotional service which lasted an hour and ended, after Enke's coffin was carried out of the stadium by several of his former team-mates, with a rendition of ‘You'll Never Walk Alone'.
Tributes to Teresa, who lost her biological daughter Lara at age two in 2006 and is left with Leila — the girl she and Robert adopted only last May — were also paid.
“With your courage you have turned to the public and made us all know what we didn't know about your husband,” said Christian Wulff, president of the state of Lower Saxony.
“We all respect you and wish that you and Leila can one day live in peace and happiness.”