Cercle Brugge said goodbye to the deceased Miguel Van Damme in a beautiful way on Sunday. The goalkeeper lost the fight against leukemia in the night from Monday to Tuesday at the age of 28. Prior to the duel with AA Gent (2-2), youth players from Cercle jointly formed the number sixteen in the center circle, as a symbol for Van Damme’s shirt number at the club. Also during the game itself it became clear several times that the game was dominated by the closing post.
During the action of the youth players of Cercle, images of Van Damme could be seen on the match screens, accompanied by music selected by his family. The players of the first team of Cercle placed a huge canvas on the center spot, and then took place around it with the staff, the players of opponent Gent and Kyana (Van Damme’s widow). A minute of silence followed, after which loud applause erupted in the Jan Breydel Stadium. After the players of Cercle formed their own, smaller circle, captain Charles Vanhoutte flew into Kyana’s arms.
Miguel ????????????????. #16 pic.twitter.com/XrDKw66pO4
— Cercle Brugge (@cercleofficial) April 3, 2022
— Jasper Pills (@JasperPills) April 3, 2022
Après 5 ans de combat contre la leucémie, Miguel Van Damme, gardien du Cercle Brugge, nous a quitté à l’âge de 28 ans ?? Toutes nos pensées vont à sa famille, ses proches et coéquipiers ??????? †@ElevenSportsBEf pic.twitter.com/Sd6lx1GOU1
— TortiFoot (@TortiFoot) March 29, 2022
The number sixteen also remained central during the match. The game was stopped in the sixteenth minute, followed by another round of applause. Cercle’s supporters released exactly sixteen white balloons for his deceased goalkeeper. At that time, two goals had already been scored in Bruges. Former Kitchen Champion Division player Tarik Tissoudali had already put Ghent in the lead in the third minute; Thibo Somers, however, equalized within the blink of an eye. Outstanding Tissoudali also played a leading role in the second Ghent goal: the Moroccan international – who shot his country to the World Cup last Tuesday – was the principal for Laurent Depoitre after half an hour of play. There was no scoring for nearly an hour, until Somers put the 2-2 final score on the scoreboard with his second goal.
The deceased Van Damme was picked up by Cercle Brugge at the age of nineteen at KSK Maldegem. He moved on to the first team in the 2013/14 season, made his professional football debut in April 2014 and, after two years on the bench, became the first goalkeeper of Cercle Brugge. After his first full season under the bar at Cercle Brugge, disaster struck: leukemia was detected during tests in preparation for the 2016/17 season. Van Damme managed to recover and was under the bar five times at Cercle Brugge between 2018 and 2019.
The leukemia returned, so it appears that he played his last game for Cercle Brugge in May 2019. Van Damme was told last summer that he was out of treatment, just two days after it became clear that he would become a father for the first time. He witnessed the birth of his daughter Camille in May.