Fernando Ricksen: Rangers legend passes away after battle with motor neurone disease

Luke Bradshaw
Sports Writer
Fernando Ricksen celebrates scoring (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell REUTERS)

Former Rangers midfielder Fernando Ricksen has died at the age of 43.

The Dutch international, who spent six years in Glasgow, as well as spells at Fortuna Sittard, AZ and Zenit St Petersburg, was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2013 and died Wednesday at a hospice just outside of Glasgow.

Signed from AZ in 2000, Ricksen quickly earned himself cult-like status at Rangers, where he won seven trophies - including two league titles - thanks to his combative style and tough tackling. In 2005, the year of his second league win, he shared the PFA Scotland Player of the Year award alongside Celtic striker John Hartson.

Ricksen during his benefit game (Photo by VI Images via Getty Images)

On March 30th 2014, Ricksen was inducted into the Rangers Hall of Fame with Nacho Novo and Lee McCulloch.

Speaking about his diagnosis at the time he 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.

"(But) I can't sit in the corner and say 'why me, what happened?’ For me, it happened and I'm still happy."

He remained in the public eye, despite his illness, still working with and being supported by the Scottish club where he enjoyed the best years of his career and, in 2015, there was a benefit match held by Rangers in honour of their former captain.

Rangers released a statement. It said: “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.

“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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