Belgian goalkeeper Miguel Van Damme has sadly passed away at the age of 28 after losing his battle with Leukaemia.
The past five-and-a-half years had been incredibly tough for the goalkeeper, who spent his entire professional career at Belgian Pro League side Cercle Brugge.
He was first diagnosed with blood cancer following a medical check-up prior to the 2016/17 campaign. Van Damme beat the infection on two occasions but in September 2020, Van Damme was told the disease had returned for the third time – and it was incurable.
Belgium-based publication Sporza claim that Van Damme was informed that the cancer was incurable just two days after discovering he would be a father.
On Tuesday, Van Damme’s club Cercle Brugge announced the devastating news in a statement on their website.
“It is with great sadness that we report that our friend and teammate Miguel Van Damme has fought his long and uneven battle against leukemia,” it read.
“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, the parents of Miguel, his sister Francesca, but also to his many friends and family.
“Miguel, your perseverance and strength to go for it (again) over and over, setback after setback, was admirable. You are an example of positivism, persistence and fighting spirit. A source of inspiration for everyone who fights. Forever in our green-black heart, #16.”
Van Damme’s wife, Kyana Dobbelaere, posted a moving tribute on Instagram.
“Our dearest darling, daddy left for his last match last night, a match that can no longer be won,” she wrote.
“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.