GLASGOW: Former Rangers player Fernando Ricksen has died at age 43 after a six-year battle with motor neurone disease.
Ricksen was a fans’ favourite during his six-year spell at Rangers after being signed by Dick Advocaat in 2000. He helped the club win the domestic cup double in 2002, the treble in 2003 and was captain for a trophy double in 2005.
Rangers said they were “deeply saddened” to be announcing the news of Ricksen’s passing. A statement added: “The thoughts of everyone at Rangers is today with his wife Veronika, his daughter Isabella and all his family and friends.”
After diagnosis in 2013, Ricksen spent his years battling motor neurone disease campaigning and raising money to find a cure for the debilitating condition, which affects the nerves and causes weakness over time.
His charity has raised over £1m in a bid to help scientists with research. Speaking to ITV in June, when he used eye movements to talk via a computer, Ricksen urged those in sport to do more to help pressure drugs companies to find a cure.
He said: “The sports world could put more pressure on the pharmaceutical companies. This disease is not lucrative enough so it has no priority.
“If tomorrow an MND epidemic came we would have a cure within a week. It’s disgusting but a reality.”
The former Dutch international also opened up about his own battle with the illness.
He said: “Your body doesn’t want to anymore but your brain is functioning without problems. You start losing the ability to speak. Then the legs start to get wobbly. Then you can’t lift your legs anymore and you start falling.”
Ricksen arrived at Rangers from AZ Alkmaar after starting his career at Fortuna Sittard and through his character, attitude, and commitment, quickly became a fans’ favourite.
Later he left Ibrox for Zenit St Petersburg and was a member of the Russian club’s swquad who reached the 2008 UEFA Cup final against Rangers, though he did not feature in a 2-0 win.
Ricksen won 12 caps for his country.