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Football legend takes own life to beat cancer

The Local · 13 Mar 2012, 09:02

Published: 13 Mar 2012 09:02 GMT+01:00

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Konietzka, 73, was diagnosed with cancer of the gall bladder last month, according to Bild newspaper, which despite an operation, was deemed terminal.

Konietzka was the first footballer to score a goal in the then brand new Bundesliga, scoring for Borussia Dortmund on August 24, 1963. He went on to score 71 more goals in a further 99 Bundesliga games, and played for Germany nine times.

Konietzka’s second career, as trainer, was played out in Switzerland, where he lead Zurich to the semi-final of the European Championship after beating Liverpool in 1977.

His death notice is addressed to his friends. Konietzka says he wants to thank Exit which he says, “released me from my torture on Monday afternoon, and accompanied me on the difficult route.”

“I am very happy,” the notice says. He is only sad to leave his family, and urges people to make the best of their lives. “Mine was long but still so short,” he writes.

“Last Tuesday I was able to take Timo home from hospital,” his widow Claudia told Swiss newspaper Blick. “The last days were very, very beautiful. Timo was able to see his grandchildren again, and he even drank a beer.”

His assisted suicide will reopen the debate about euthanasia in Europe – coming as it does just as a paralysed man campaigning for the right to die in the UK was granted leave to have his case decided by the country’s high court.

Story continues below…

The Local/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

11:49 March 13, 2012 by wood artist
With the exception of people like the poor gentleman in the UK, we all have the "right" to trigger our own death. The important differences...and they are truly important, have little to do with the reality of suicide.

Difference #1. Most "regular" methods are messy. There is little dignity in making a mess by bleeding out from the bullet wound or jumping from a bridge. Your family is left with a "final memory" of a damaged body.

Difference #2. You must be alone at the end. If you surround yourself with friends and family they can be charged with various crimes. So, the alternative is to make certain they are miles away, with no knowledge of what you plan to do. Hardly the peaceful exit we'd all most likely prefer.

Difference #3. As with the gentleman in the UK, if you're unable to do things for yourself, you're...stuck.

Compare all of that with the humane idea that you can, as Konietzka did, be with your family, say the things you'd like them to know, and then leave peacefully on your own terms. Which of these options seems truly civilized?

Several years ago the people of the State of Oregon in the US passed a law entitled Death with Dignity, and it provides for these very things. It requires a terminal diagnosis, a second opinion, and some other reasonable precautions. When you have less than 6 months left, you can fill the prescription and then select the time that's right for you. It is interesting that just this week the man who led the movement to pass the law took his own life after suffering from a cancer.

In his goodbye, he spoke of the wonderful option he had, to pass on at home, amongst friends and family, and having made the necessary plans. Maybe it's time every nation considered some sort of option.

13:27 March 13, 2012 by Sayer
If only German law was as mature as the Swiss. While one can agree that everyone has the right to life, it is also true that the right is not a duty. Choosing the time and place of one's transition to the other side is a personal matter, not to be interfered with by moralistic courts, prone to so many errors. I fully agree with this man's actions. In the interest of humanity it should be enshrined in EU law as a human right. Considering that we 'put down' suffering animals, why would we insist that a human be made to suffer when a voluntary exit strategy is available.
14:06 March 13, 2012 by gbellcpt
Death with Dignity is what I am wanting to get passed in South Africa. My father passed away in December with a long battle against cancer, if he had the choice he would have taken it and I am all for a dignified death. As you can take your sick and injured beloved pet to be put down and to be taken out of his misery we should be able to have the full right to do the same to our loved ones who are in extreme pain and agony. More countries should be like the Swiss!
18:28 March 13, 2012 by Englishted
Totally agreement with all the above comments,only would I clarify the position with the man in England ,he has gone beyond suicide as it is impossible for him to do it alone ,so he must be killed ,therein is the problem in the U.K. as it is "murder" .Now there is a case going on maybe things will change ,we shall see..
19:03 March 13, 2012 by Staticjumper
Mr. Konietzka was a pillar of courage and grace. I cannot imagine being in his position, but given the choice between a protracted, painful, undignified and ultimately futile fight with cancer and leaving on my own terms, I certainly hope I could find the composure and strength he did. And as Wood Artist described, would you want your loved one¦#39;s last image of you to be one of violence and destruction, or one of peace and acceptance? He's given them one last, loving gift.
20:43 March 13, 2012 by ovalle3.14
Great stuff. Why not let people fullfill their own wishes?
21:23 March 13, 2012 by wood artist

That is one aspect I failed to mention in the Oregon law. Once you've been "approved" and have been issued the prescription, the "how" and "when" are left entirely up to you. If you need assistance, that's fine. About the only regulation, which apparently isn't strictly enforced, is that the State would like to know if you used the prescription (no details needed) purely to see how the law is working. Oddly, only about 60% of the prescriptions are used, and many people have said that just having the option makes end of life care so much easier.

09:14 March 14, 2012 by Englishted
@wood artist

Interesting thank you.
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