Jelle Van Damme
Van Damme in 2009
|Full name||Jelle François Maria Van Damme|
|Date of birth||10 October 1983|
|Place of birth||Lokeren, Belgium|
|Height||1.94 m (6 ft 4 1⁄2 in)|
|Playing position||Defender / Left midfielder|
|Current club||Standard Liège|
|2005–2006||→ Werder Bremen (loan)||8||(1)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 22 September 2013.
† Appearances (Goals).
Jelle François Maria Van Damme (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈjɛ.lə vɐn ˈdɑ.mə]; born 10 October 1983) is a Belgian international footballer who can play as a central defender, left back or left sided midfielder. He is signed to Belgian Pro League club Standard Liège.
Van Damme started his career at Beveren, before he made a short move to neighbour club Lokeren where he played in the youth teams. He then signed for Germinal Beerschot in 2001, making his senior debut in the Jupiler League. Beerschot were linked with Ajax and the Amsterdam club soon offered him a trial stay beginning in February 2002.
In summer 2002, Van Damme moved permanently to Ajax where he showed promise in the Dutch Cup. In the 2002–03 season, he played in the Champions League and started as a regular player in the squad before breaking his toe in November 2002. The next season he helped Ajax again qualify for the Champions League group stage but he had few chances to play in the first team's title winning campaign, with the club preferring the Brazilian Maxwell at full back. This limited chance of game time to sign for Southampton of the Premier League in June 2004, for £2.5 million.
He made little impact during his spell with Southampton, playing just six times during the 2004–05 season, as the club were relegated to the Championship. He spent the 2005–06 season on loan at German Bundesliga club Werder Bremen but again struggled to hold down regular football, making just eight appearances (three starts), as the club finished runners-up. In search of more playing opportunities, Van Damme returned to his homeland to sign for Anderlecht in June 2006 for €500,000.
His four-year spell at Anderlecht was much more successful as he won two Jupiler League championships (twice runners-up) and the 2008 Belgian Cup, and appeared in the Champions League group stages several times. Van Damme scored in the 2–1 win at rivals Club Brugge that won the second of these league titles in 2010.
His time in Brussels was the source of an unsavoury incident though, when Standard Liege defender Oguchi Onyewu accused him of racial abuse during the 2008–09 Championship playoff between the clubs, when Van Damme allegedly called Onyewu a "dirty monkey." Onyewu subsequently sued Van Damme, although the case was withdrawn in February 2011 after a meeting between the two players when Van Damme apologised for any offence he may have given.
Van Damme returned to the Premier League in June 2010 by joining Wolverhampton Wanderers. He signed a three-year deal, with the option of a fourth year, for a fee reported to be around £2.5 million. Sell-on clauses relating to his 2006 move to Anderlecht mean that Southampton should receive between 10 and 15 per cent of the fee received from Wolves, estimated at £300,000.
He scored his first, and only, goal for Wolves against Fulham on 11 September 2010. He struggled to settle at the club though, and on 29 November 2010, he signed a pre-contract agreement to return to his Belgian homeland in a three-and-a-half year deal with Standard Liège, after just six appearances for the Midlands club.
Van Damme's return to Belgium was officially ratified when the January 2011 transfer window opened. He made his Standard debut (playing as captain) in a 0–2 loss at former club Anderlecht on 23 January.Van Damme is considered one of the best captains Standard Liege has had in millennia.
Van Damme made his debut for the Belgium national team on 29 March 2003 in a 0–4 friendly loss to Croatia. He appeared for the national team during their unsuccessful qualifying campaigns for the 2006 and 2010 World Cups and UEFA Euro 2008.
- Eredivisie: 2003–04
Van Damme is married to former tennis player Elke Clijsters, sister of Kim Clijsters, whom he wed in May 2008 in Bree, Belgium. They have two children, Cruz Léo (born October 2009) and Cleo (born November 2010).
- "Saints land van Damme". BBC Sport. 9 June 2004. Retrieved 9 July 2013.
- "Van Damme bound for Anderlecht". UEFA. 6 June 2006. Retrieved 9 July 2013.
- "Anderlecht’s Ariel Jacobs Hails Players after Clinching Belgian Title". insidefutbol.com. 19 April 2010. Retrieved 9 July 2013.
- Adubato, Michael (22 May 2009). "Onyewu: We'll Make Liege Proud". Yanks-Abroad.com. Retrieved 22 May 2009. "I almost ended up fighting him (Van Damme). He called me a monkey several times. The league has these anti-racism campaigns, but when I told the referee what Van Damme was saying, he chose not to do anything about it. I also told the journalists after the game last night about this."
- "U.S.' Onyewu sues over alleged racist slur". Sports Illustrated. Associated Press. 2 June 2009. Retrieved 2 June 2009.
- "Oguchi Onyewu retire sa plainte contre Jelle Van Damme (Oguchi Onyewu withdraws his complaint against Jelle Van Damme)". DH Sports (in French). 17 February 2011. Retrieved 16 June 2012.
- "Wolves recruit defender Jelle van Damme from Anderlecht". BBC Sport. 1 June 2010. Retrieved 9 July 2013.
- "Van Damme deal nets Saints a cash boost". Southern Daily Echo. 1 June 2010. Retrieved 1 June 2010.
- "Jelle Van Damme" (in French). Standard Liège. 29 November 2010. Retrieved 9 July 2013.
- "Wolves confirm Van Damme deal close". wolves.co.uk. 30 November 2010.[dead link]
- "R.S.C. Anderlecht 2–0 Royal Standard de Liège" (in French). Standard Liège. 23 January 2011. Retrieved 9 July 2013.
- Murrells, Katy (29 October 2010). "Kim Clijsters". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 July 2013.
- Jelle Van Damme (incomplete) career stats at Soccerbase
- Article on legal ramifications of lawsuit between Onyewu and Van Damme