Former Glasgow Rangers and Dutch defender Fernando Ricksen has died at the age of 43 after struggling with motor neuron disease. Despite suffering a rare disease, Ricksen still struggles as a “warrior” to inspire football world.
Ricksen has 12 caps for the Netherlands and has fought for the disease for 6 years after being diagnosed in October 2013. The former defender hit the ground in Glasgow Rangers for six years and with the Scottish team won a domestic double in 2002 and a treble of domestic titles in 2003.
After learning that he had a rare disease, Ricksen raised money to find a cure, including a charity match held in January 2015. This match attracted more than 41,000 fans to the Ibrox field, raising £320,000 ($399,000). The money was distributed to Ricksen, his daughter Isabella, the Scottish non-profit MND and the Rangers Charity Foundation.
“On behalf of the club, I would like to honor him. He is a great player and has had a brilliant career. He played with all his heart because he was like that until he got sick in 2013. At that time, he was expected to live another 18 months and fought hard to stay now. This journey reflects his personality, a warrior on and off the pitch. Please send my sincere condolences to your small family”, coach Gerrard – former England player and Liverpool club, regretfully shared in his gratitude to Ricksen.
Ricksen joined Rangers in 2000 when the then coach Dick Advocaat pulled him from AZ Alkmaar (Netherlands). The former defender later became the most admired player in the eyes of the fans thanks to his fighting style.
After his time in Rangers, Ricksen moved to play for Zenit Saint Petersburg in Russia, where he met coach Advocaat, who once led the Netherlands. Coincidentally, Ricksen joined the Russian team just in time for Zenit to beat Rangers in the 2008 UEFA Cup final, although he was not allowed to play.
After hearing the sad news, Zenit club also praised the former defender on Twitter: “We are deeply saddened to hear that the former player Fernando Ricksen has passed away. He bravely fought the motor neuron disease until the very end. We all think of him and his family in this difficult time”.