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Belgian footballer Miguel Van Damme has died from leukemia at 28 years old. He is survived by his wife and a young daughter, his club Cercle Brugge announced on Tuesday.
“It is with the greatest sadness that we report that our friend and teammate Miguel Van Damme lost the fight in his long and uneven battle against leukemia,” 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. Today is an extremely difficult day in the almost 123-year history of Cercle Brugge,” the club added. They also offered condolences to the goalkeeper’s wife Kyana, daughter Camille, and his parents, sister, friends, and family.
Van Damme was diagnosed with leukemia in 2016. For five years, Van Damme underwent several courses of treatment for the cancer.
“Miguel, your perseverance and strength to go for it again and again, 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,” the club added.
In a statement, Spanish team Real Madrid said that it “profoundly laments” Van Damme’s death and that it “expresses its condolences and care and affection to all of his family members and loved ones, his club and teammates.”
Van Damme’s wife also paid tribute to him on Instagram, saying that the goalkeeper “fought like a lion” against his illness.
“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,” wrote Kyana Dobbelaere.
“We are so thankful for who you were. An example for many. You have made me realize 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,” she added.