HANOVER: German international goalkeeper Robert Enke has been killed after being hit by a train at a level crossing, police said on Tuesday.
Police said that the death could be a suicide.
"There has been a fatal accident at a level crossing," confirmed police spokesman Stefan Wittke.
Jorg Neblung, a close friend and advisor to the six-times capped goalkeeper, confirmed it was suicide.
"I can confirm that it was suicide," he said.
"Robert took his own life shortly before six o'clock (1700GMT).
"A press conference in Hannover on Wednesday will reveal more details," he added.
The 32-year-old Germany and Hannover 96 goalkeeper - who leaves a widow and a daughter of eight months who they adopted in May three years after their two-year-old daughter died of a heart illness - had been suffering from a mystery ailment recently.
He pulled out of the Germany squad two days ahead of their 4-0 World Cup qualifying victory over Azerbaijan in early September.
"We're in shock. I don't know what to say," said national manager Oliver Bierhoff.
His club president Martin Kind was left stunned.
"It is a total catastrophe. I am finding it hard to understand," said Kind.
Enke was understudy to then first-team 'keeper Jens Lehmann during the 2008 European championships and had been in line to fill his boots before being taken ill in September and October.
During that time his rival Rene Adler increased his chances of taking over the role in the national team who have qualified for the 2010 World Cup finals.
Enke had also at one time been linked with a move to German giants Bayern Munich where the former German Under-21 international Michael Rensing had not impressed in his first season between the posts.
However, Uli Hoeness, Bayern's general manager, had made clear they were not interested in paying the 10million euros transfer fee.
Several people had advised Enke, who had previously had spells at Benfica, Barcelona and Tenerife, to leave Hannover for a more prestigious club and one that was playing in European club competition so he would improve his chances of becoming German number one.
- Locker Room
- how it works
2014 World Cup Draw: USA gets a 'Group of Death'
Messi commits “forever” to Barcelona
Galaxy asks Donovan to stay in MLS
A look at 2014 FIFA World Cup bracket
Why money doesn't buy you success
The Everyman's Guide to Loving the Euro
Are the MLS playoffs a joke?
City celebrate, United congratulate
Racial slurs = kick in the groin. Fair!