Robert MUELLER. Photo: Reuters

“SE” tells the tragic story of the German goalkeeper Robert Mueller, whose silhouette is on the emblem of the world Cup 2017.

The share of the average hockey player has more than a hundred of force per season. The lucky ones get three or even four times more.

Want-not – need to always be ready to take a punch. This is probably why, when it comes to the blows of fate, they demonstrate courage, who can only wonder.

Mario Lemieux, John Cullen, Saku Koivu are just the most famous of those who ever fought on the ice, but the worst enemy was met in my own body. All three subsequently received the trophy of bill Masterton, who died tragically from the received on-ice impact.

The two-time Stanley Cup winner Brian Bickell, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, has played his last match. The goalkeeper of “Ottawa” Craig Anderson all season torn between his sick wife’s bed and gate “Thayer center”.

Hockey fights cancer and other dreadful diseases not only in October during numerous high-profile shares. But every day, when no one sees.

Someone like Jakub Voracek, and even organizes its own funds. Someone like Anders Lee, collects donations.

Amazing stories will be enough for several books, but do you know many hockey players, whose numbers were withdrawn from circulation in the whole League? I am only two. The name of the first – Gretzky. The second name is Robert Muller.

Of course, the German hockey League is far from the NHL. And who knows what would have been the career of Muller, if he stayed in the United States in 2002, after the summer training camp of the Washington capitals. Maybe we would spend the remaining years in the AHL, fighting for a place in the gate “Portland Pirates” or “Hershey bears”. And maybe, would get the prize of bill Masterton, and in the last match in November of 2008, he would have applauded twenty thousand “Verizon center”.

But Muller decided to return home: “I want to succeed here,’ he said, returning to Krefeld. – America will be late.” Later never came. Seven years later, Robert died of cancer, so never and not to participate in the match NHL.

He became three-time German champion and five times out on the ice at a local all-star game. Played in nine world Championships and two Olympic games. He still holds the record of the world Championships on the number reflected in a single match shots (49). Two months before the death of Mueller was included in the Hall of fame for German hockey.

The award he took home. Without applause and loud speeches, in a white t-shirt with the logo of “capitals”. Maybe remembering about the training camp and regretting that never proved himself in the best League in the world. And maybe just. Without a second thought. With difficulty moving around the small room, he still tried to joke.

Robert two years alternated matches with chemo, but didn’t want to be treated special and this is probably why, until recently, concealed the gravity of his situation and avoided talking about the disease: “If I play well – you can praise me. But if I played badly, you should criticize me.” The constant questions over and over again repeated: “I’m sick. And I just have to live with it”.

“Someone needs to write a book about him, said in an interview with Bild, the former teammate of Robert Andreas Renz. – He inspires everyone around, despite the disease. He will never allow others to feel how hard it is sick, just because he doesn’t want to burden anybody”.

None of the thousands sent to him during the last years of his life letters remained unanswered. But only after the second operation, when hope was no longer on that, Mueller finally allowed the doctor to tell about the true state of Affairs.

Glioblastoma multiforme. Aggressive form of brain tumor. 70 percent of patients with this diagnosis die within a year. Robert lived two and a half, although after the first operation in November 2006, the year the doctors were sure that they extend the life of a goalkeeper will only be for a little while.

Two months after her Muller with a huge scar across the head out on the ice in all-star game. In five days – defended gate of the national team. “I still have time before the playoffs to get in the gate, he said in an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine. – In April we have a second child is born. It would be great to raise over baby’s head with a championship trophy. Then, I hope, will go to the world Cup. I participated in eight, and would like to get to the ninth.”

It is impossible to imagine that these are the words of a dying man.

He really took to the ice in the play-offs, although the title is not reached. As before the 2007 world championship. But still got him for the ninth time in a year, in the canadian Halifax. Where he recorded 36 shots during a sensational victory over the Slovaks.

However, before that Robert lost his place in the “Adler Mannheim”, and went first to “Duisburg” and then to “Cologne”. And came with a new team to the League finals, leaving the path not to abandon it, “Adler”. One of the matches of the series was the second (now third) in duration in the history of world hockey. Sentenced to death, the goalkeeper spent on the ice 168 minutes 16 seconds and has recorded 96 shots out of a hundred. His team won in the sixth overtime.

The doctors were amazed by how easy Muller cope with the effects of radiation and chemotherapy. And Robert just kept saying, it’s all hockey. “If not for sports, I never could go through these things.”

The fall of that year he underwent a second surgery. But 44 days later, he again rolled on the ice, forcing the “LANXESS arena” to shudder from the incessant loud applause. You hardly ever hear a crowded stadium in unison chanting the name coming at the end of the match, reserve goalkeeper. Under the incessant applause of he spent on the ice eight minutes. And six a week, November 23, 2008, in Krefeld. Where was returning from the training camp, “capitals”. Where once they won the title. There he came to the big ice for the last time.

After a few days as Muller has deteriorated sharply. To train with the team he could no longer. But, in spite of everything, to the last tried to play hockey.

Many residents of Cologne, remember how in the winter of 2009, the year a bunch of people in the hockey gear was going to a small, cleared patch of frozen lake Textainer on the outskirts of the city. One was moving slowly and seemed with great difficulty. The partners even had to tie his skates – he alone just couldn’t. But, rising to his feet, Robert Mueller grabbed the stick and with a happy smile slipped to a makeshift gate at the dazzlingly brilliant in the morning sun the ice.

Vladimir OMELIN, Sport-Express