Former Rangers and Holland defender Fernando Ricksen dies aged 43 after Ibrox cult hero and Treble winner loses six-year battle with motor neurone disease
- Former Rangers and Holland defender Fernando Ricksen has died aged 43
- The Dutchman was bravely battling motor neurone disease for six years
- Ricksen died in the early hours of Wednesday morning in a Glasgow hospice
- The disease left him with difficulty speaking and could not feed himself
- Ricksen won two league titles during his decorated six-year spell in Scotland
Former Rangers player Fernando Ricksen has died aged 43 after losing battle with motor neurone disease.
The Dutchman fought the illness for six years following his diagnosis in 2013.
Ricksen died in the early hours of Wednesday morning in a hospice outside Glasgow.
Fernando Ricksen has died aged 43 after losing battle with motor neurone disease
The Dutchman fought the illness for six years following his diagnosis in 2013
Ricksen died in the early hours of Wednesday morning in a hospice outside Glasgow
Motor neurone disease is a rare condition that mainly affects people in their 60s and 70s, but it can affect adults of all ages.
It’s caused by a problem with cells in the brain and nerves called motor neurones. These cells gradually stop working over time. It’s not known why this happens.
Having a close relative with motor neurone disease, or a related condition called frontotemporal dementia, can sometimes mean you’re more likely to get it. But it doesn’t run in families in most cases.
Early symptoms can include weakness in your ankle or leg, like finding it hard to walk upstairs; slurred speech, finding it hard to swallow, a weak grip, and gradual weight loss
If you have these sympthoms, you should see a GP. They will consider other possible conditions and can refer you to a specialist called a neurologist if necessary.
If a close relative has motor neurone disease or frontotemporal dementia and you’re worried you may be at risk of it – they may refer you to a genetic counsellor to talk about your risk and any tests you can have
Source: NHS UK
A statement from the official Rangers website read: ‘Rangers is deeply saddened to announce that former player Fernando Ricksen passed away this morning following his battle with motor neurone disease.
‘Fernando spent six trophy-laden seasons at Ibrox having initially joined a number of other Dutch players under manager Dick Advocaat in the summer of 2000.’
Ricksen never shirked public appearances despite the disease leaving him with difficulty speaking and needing help to dress and feed himself.
A benefit match for the Dutchman, held at Ibrox in January 2015, saw over 41,000 fans attend Ibrox and raised £320,000 with the proceeds split between Fernando, his daughter Isabella, MND Scotland and the Rangers Charity Foundation.
Ricksen won two league titles, two Scottish Cups and three League Cups during his six-year spell in Scotland.
The right-back earned 12 caps for his country and won the PFA Scotland Player of the Year alongside John Hartson in 2005.
Advocaat signed the defender for Rangers from AZ Alkmaar for a fee of just under £4million.
Ricksen has left behind his wife, Veronika, 33 and daughter Isabella, 8.
He did a documentary with Sky Sports in 2015 describing when he received his diagnosis.
Ricksen said: ‘When they said, I just couldn’t believe it.
‘I thought they had made a mistake, maybe they took someone else’s file. But after one month of all the tests, then you know what you have.
Ricksen, pictured right, with his wife Veronika and daughter Isabella at a benefit game in the Netherlands in May 2014. Ricksen had retired from football a year earlier
‘(But) I can’t sit in the corner and say ‘why me, what happened?
‘For me, it happened and I’m still happy.’
Ricksen raised awareness and funds to help other suffers of motor neurone through the Fernando Ricksen Foundation.
Fortuna, currently second bottom in Eredivisie, paid tribute to their former player on Twitter.
‘Today we received the sad news that Fernando Ricksen died at the age of 43,’ the club said. ‘We wish all surviving relatives strength in this difficult time. Warrior, rest in peace!’
Zenit, second in the Russian top flight, said on Twitter: ‘We’re deeply saddened to hear of the passing of our former player Fernando Ricksen.
‘He battled bravely against motor neurone disease right until the end and we are all thinking of him and his family at this difficult time.’
Ricksen played for Rangers between 2000 and 2006 where he won the league twice, three league cups and two Scottish cups
The right-back earned 12 caps for his country and won the PFA Scotland Player of the Year
FULL RANGERS STATEMENT
‘Rangers is deeply saddened to announce that former player Fernando Ricksen passed away this morning following his battle with motor neurone disease.
‘Fernando spent six trophy-laden seasons at Ibrox having initially joined a number of other Dutch players under manager Dick Advocaat in the summer of 2000.
‘Signing from AZ Alkmaar, he endured a difficult start to life in Glasgow, but in typical Fernando fashion, he worked hard in the face of adversity to become a mainstay in the side when Alex McLeish took over as manager in December 2001.
‘He played in both the League Cup and Scottish Cup finals of that season, as Gers defeated Ayr United and Celtic respectively to claim a cup double.
‘The following season, he was an outstanding performer as the Light Blues went one better to win the domestic treble with Ricksen again playing in both cup finals.
‘Season 2003/04 was a disappointment for everyone at Rangers, but season 2004/05 was to be another memorable campaign, with Fernando named captain of the side in January 2005 following an injury to Stefan Klos.
‘He was truly wonderful in that campaign, particularly after being handed the armband, and began adding goals to his game, claiming a total of nine in that season, while he was named as Rangers’ Player of the Year and joint-SPFA Player of the Year with John Hartson.
‘In a crucial game at Hearts in the title run-in, he remained calm under intense pressure to net a 94th-minute winner from the penalty spot to keep Gers in the hunt for the big prize.
‘He also scored a terrific free-kick against Motherwell in a 5-1 League Cup final win as he lifted his first trophy as captain, but the main event of the season was still to come.
‘Trailing Celtic by two points going into the final game of the season, a defeat for Martin O’Neill’s side at Motherwell coupled with a win for Gers at Hibs meant McLeish’s men sensationally claimed the title – with Fernando being the man to lift the trophy on one of the most iconic days in the club’s history.
‘Fernando left for Zenit and, in a twist of fate, was an unused substitute for them against Rangers in the 2008 UEFA Cup Final.
‘He left Zenit in 2009 and wound down his career at his first club, Fortuna Sittard until his retirement.
‘In October 2013, he revealed he was suffering from motor neuron disease, and since then, has fought a terrific battle against the condition, raising awareness and funds for the Fernando Ricksen Foundation which aims to help others suffering from the illness.
‘A benefit match was held at Ibrox in January 2015, and attracted over 41,000 fans to Ibrox. It raised £320,000 with the proceeds split between Fernando, his daughter Isabella, MND Scotland and the Rangers Charity Foundation.
‘A member of the Rangers Hall of Fame, he also won 12 caps for his native Holland.
‘The thoughts of everyone at Rangers is today with his wife Veronika, his daughter Isabella and all his family and friends.’
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