LA Galaxy

Defender Jelle Van Damme retires from professional soccer

Jelle Van Damme

Former LA Galaxy defender Jelle Van Damme announced his retirement from professional soccer today. Van Damme, 37, retires after a 20-year professional career representing Germinal Beerschot, AFC Ajax, Southhampton FC, SV Werder Bremen, RSC Anderlecht, Wolverhampton Wanderers FC, Standard de Liege, LA Galaxy, Royal Antwerp FC, and Sporting Lokeren.

The former Galaxy captain wrote an emotional note announcing his retirement. 

"It's a wrap!!! I'm officially retiring from professional football/soccer," he wrote. "It was a hard call to make as well as an easy one as my kids were always priority in my choices... as I promised them not to go too far away anymore, there was nothing close enough or interesting enough that came up and that's okay."

"So, I'm out...and to be honest there's more in life than this beautiful game! Let me first thank all the clubs and my country I've played for, for giving me the chances and opportunities to defend their colors and flag! I can honestly say I really gave everything I had in me, every single time." 

"Also thanks to all the people close to me during the years in my career...thank yo for the support in the good and bad days. Last but not least... I want to thank all the ans... and yes also the fans from the opposite teams... you guys were fuel to my engine... and as we can see now... the game is totally different without all of you in the stands... so I hope it goes back to normal real soon! You will be missed!!!" 

"I love all of you and we will see each other soon somehow somewhere... so for now let's enjoy life a little and then we see what comes on to my path... It was a pleasure!!! Stay healthy. #37." 

As a member of the LA Galaxy, Van Damme made 46 appearances, all starts, since joining the club before the start of the 2016 MLS Regular Season. In 2017, he was named team captain. He earned honors as 2016 MLS Best XI Defender, two-time MLS All-Star and was named the 2016 LA Galaxy Defender of the Year.