Rangers hero Fernando Ricksen passes away aged 43 after battle with motor neurone disease

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Ricksen died in the early hours of this morning in a hospice just outside Glasgow.

The Rangers legend revealed in October 2013 he was suffering from the fatal disease and fought against the condition in typical battling style.

He raises funds and awareness for the condition in with the Fernando Ricksen Foundation, for which Rangers held a charity match in January 2015.

Over 41,000 spectators attended the Ibrox event and £320,000 was raised to split between Ricksen, his daughter Isabella, MND Scotland and the Rangers Charity Foundation.

His wife Veronika and daughter Isabella today mourn the loss of Ricksen, who celebrated his 43rd birthday in the summer.

Ricksen was born in Limburg, Holland in July 1976 and was football-obsessed from a young age. 

He spent his youth career at four different clubs before turning professional at Fortuna Sittard.

After three impressive years, the right-back earned a move to AZ Alkmaar and impressed compatriot Dick Advocaat during another three-season spell.

Rangers hero Fernando Ricksen passes away aged 43 after battle with motor neurone disease

Rangers hero Fernando Ricksen passes away aged 43 after battle with motor neurone disease (Image: Getty)

Rangers hero Fernando Ricksen passes away aged 43 after battle with motor neurone disease

Fernando Ricksen with his family in 2015 (Image: Getty)

Rangers hero Fernando Ricksen passes away aged 43 after battle with motor neurone disease

Fernando Ricksen enjoyed a trophy-laden six years at Rangers (Image: Reuters)

The tactician brought Ricksen with him to Rangers in 2000, where Ricksen would stay for the next six years.

Gers fans took to the full-back for his aggressive, full-bloodied style on the pitch and after a tough start to life in Glasgow the player became a mainstay of the side.

Once Alex McLeish took over the reins in 2001 Ricksen came into his own and featured in both 2001/02 Cup finals as Rangers did the double.

The treble beckoned next season for the Light Blues and Ricksen was a key component of the iconic side which also featured Barry Ferguson and Ronald de Boer.

Rangers hero Fernando Ricksen passes away aged 43 after battle with motor neurone disease

Rangers offered a lot of suport to Fernando Ricksen throughout his battle with motor neurone disease (Image: Press Association)

Ricksen captained the club for the first time in 2005 and remained vice-captain to Stefan Klos and Barry Ferguson as he neared the end of his Ibrox stay.

In 2006 he entered an alcohol addiction programme to fight the demons which often plagued his time at Ibrox and went on loan to Zenit St Petersburg, where he was re-united with Advocaat, which soon turned into a permanent move for just over £1million.

Ricksen made over 180 appearances for Rangers, winning seven major honours, and was inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame in 2013. 

Speaking about his diagnosis in a 2015 Sky Sports documentary, 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.

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

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