Belgian player Van Damme dies aged 28
Belgian footballer Miguel Van Damme has died following a long fight against leukaemia.
Cercle Brugge goalkeeper Van Damme started playing in the Belgian first division in 2014 but made less than 50 appearances as his career was disrupted by the disease.
He was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2016. He recovered but relapsed and announced in September 2020 that his treatment was no longer effective.
"It is with great sadness we report that our friend and team-mate Van Damme has fought his long and uneven battle against leukaemia," the club said.
Words are not enough to describe what we feel, even though we knew that things had not gone well for a while.
"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, who was 28, is survived by his wife Kyana Dobbelaere and his daughter Camille.
Dobbelaere wrote 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."
The Belgian Pro League said: "Our thoughts are with his family, friends and everyone at Cercle Brugge.
"Your fighting spirit has been inspiring. Rest in peace."