Fernando Ricksen death: Fomer Rangers footballer dies, aged 43 after battle with motor neurone disease

Fernando Ricksen has died aged 43 after a battle with motor neurone disease, his former club Rangers have announced.

The former Netherlands international, with 12 caps, made 452 appearances over a 19-year career, most notably at Ibrox, where he won seven major honours, including two Scottish Premier League titles.

Ricksen was diagnosed with the motor neurone disease in 2013, battling the condition and raising awareness since, including a benefit match at Rangers in 2015, raising £320,000.

A Rangers club statement 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.

Fans pay tribute to Fernando Ricksen (Action Images via Reuters)

“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.”

Ricksen started his career at Fortuna Sittard and brought to Rangers by Dutch manager Dick Advocaat in 2000 for  £3.75million from AZ Alkmaar. He became a regular under Alex McLeish when he took over as boss in December 2001.

Ricksen, a midfielder who could also play at right-back, went on to win the Scottish league and cup double in 2002, the treble in 2003 and the league and League Cup in 2005.

He left Rangers to join Zenit St Petersburg, initially on loan, in 2006 and signed for the Russian club permanently in 2007 before returning to Holland to finish his playing career with Fortuna.

Tributes quickly followed the news, with former clubs Fortuna and Zenit joining Rangers to pay their respect.

Fortuna said in a statement: “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.” AZ Alkmaar wrote: “Rest in peace.”

Former teammate Peter Lovenkrands paid tribute to Ricksen for helping him settle at Ibrox in 2000. 

He wrote: “You looked after me when we signed at Rangers together, taking me back and forward to training because I didn’t have a car, great memories on and off the pitch!

“A true warrior and leader on the pitch! You’ll be truly missed. RIP my friend.”

While former Celtic striker John Hartson wrote: “Sorry to hear Fernando Ricksen has passed away.. fought till the end.. my thoughts are with his immediate family and friends.. RIP Fernando”.

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