Belgian goalkeeper Miguel Van Damme has died at the age of 28 following a long-running battle with leukaemia.
Damme who has spent his entire career with Cercle Brugge passed away after a five-and-a-half-year battle with the illness.
He was first diagnosed with blood cancer following a medical check-up prior to the 2016-17 campaign.
He successfully saw off the infection on two occasions but announced in September 2020 that it had returned for the third time and that this time it was incurable.
Van Damme’s wife Kyana Dobbelaere – who gave birth to a baby daughter, Camille, in May 2021 – said in an emotional post on Instagram:
“Our dearest darling, daddy left for his last match last night, a match that can no longer be won. You left us very slowly, yet you did it again in your own way… very strong.
“You fought like a lion. We are so thankful for who you were. An example for many.
“You have made me realise that there is no such thing as giving up, even if there was only that one small glimmer of success, time and again you got over it.
“Rest now darling you have more than earned it, you are now freed from all pain. We would love to see you.
“Big hug from your two girls. See you later.”
Messages of condolence
Cercle Brugge, for whom Van Damme made 40 appearances, said in a statement following news of a popular character’s passing:
“It is with great sadness that we report that our friend and team-mate Miguel Van Damme has fought his long and unfair battle against leukaemia.
“Words are not enough to describe what we feel, even though we knew that things had not gone well for a while.
“Today is an extremely difficult day in the almost 123-year history of Cercle Brugge.
“Our thoughts go in the first place to his wife Kyana, his daughter Camille, Miguel’s parents, his sister Francesca but also to his many friends and family.
“Miguel, your perseverance and strength to go for it over and over, setback after setback, was admirable.
“You are an example of positivity, persistence and fighting spirit. A source of inspiration for everyone who fights.
“Forever in our green-black heart, #16.”