(CNN)Belgian footballer Miguel Van Damme has died from leukemia, leaving behind his wife and young daughter, his club Cercle Brugge said Tuesday. He was 28 years old.
Belgian footballer Miguel Van Damme dies at 28
"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 in a statement.
"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," it added, sending condolences to the goalkeeper's wife Kyana, daughter Camille, as well as his parents, sister, friends and family.
Van Damme was diagnosed with leukemia in 2016 and underwent several courses of treatment for the cancer over five years.
"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.
Spanish giant Real Madrid said in a statement that it "profoundly laments" the death of Van Damme 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 partner paid tribute to him on Instagram, writing that the goal keeper "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," Kyana Dobbelaere wrote.
"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.