The Galaxy announced on Friday that they have completed the transfer of Van Damme, who joins Royal Antwerp FC in his native Belgium. LA received $235,000 from Antwerp FC for the 33-year-old central defender.
“Jelle came to us and requested to return home to Belgium to be closer to his children,” Galaxy general manager Pete Vagenas said in a statement released by the club. “We worked closely with Jelle and Royal Antwerp so that we could make this move possible for Jelle and his family. Our top priority remains the success of the LA Galaxy. We thank him for his time with our club and wish him the best going forward.”
Van Damme departs the Galaxy after joining the club on a free transfer prior to the 2016 season. He made 46 appearances, all starts, for LA, and earned honors as a 2016 MLS Best XI Defender and two-time MLS All-Star. Van Damme, who served as the team captain this year, was also named the Galaxy Defender of the Year a season ago.
The veteran, who had been linked with an LA exit for days, took to his Instagram account on Friday to bid farewell and express gratitude to Galaxy fans.
In life we are always faced with really difficult decisions. This is one of the most difficult decisions I’ve had to make as a player and a person. My family is the most important thing in my life and after two years away, I have decided to go back to Belgium so that I can spend time with my beautiful kids. I am going home to be with my family, but in the process I am leaving the family that I have made here in LA. I want to thank the club for working with me to get me closer to my kids. I have loved playing for you, the supporters of this great club. I have loved serving as your captain while representing the LA Galaxy, the fans and the city of Los Angeles. The LA Galaxy and each of you will remain close to my heart. Thank you for all of your support. To my teammates...i'm gonna miss all of u mofo's...for real!!!!To the fans...love all of u guys...❤️🙏🏻and don't forget..LA is......🤙🏻#ThisIsLA #capi #LA #37 #family #cruz #cleo #RAFC #1 #thegreatold