A solitary wooden coffin smothered with white roses resting fifty paces from the goalmouth in Niedersachsen stadium in Hannover today became the focus of a nation in tears, the Sunday Times reported.
Ministers, a former Chancellor, the national soccer squad, 45,000 fans in the terraces and an estimated two million television viewers mourned the brutal self-inflicted death of Germany's top goalkeeper, Robert Enke.
It was the biggest display of public mourning since the death in 1967 of the founding Chancellor of West Germany, Konrad Adenauer, and commentators were already talking of a "Princess Diana effect," a kind of shock wave rippling through the country, the paper reported.
It was prompted not only by the fact that 32-year-old Enke threw himself in front of a train close to the peak of his career, but also by his perceived need to conceal clinical depression.
"Football isn't everything," Theo Zwanziger, chairman of the German Football Association, told the crowd in the stadium, according to the paper.
"We musn't let it be everything. Dear parents everywhere please bear that in mind if you are determined that your talented children should become national players."