Former Netherlands and Rangers player Fernando Ricksen has died at the age of 43 following a battle with motor neurone disease, the Scottish Premiership club announced yesterday. Ricksen, who spent six years at Rangers until 2006, announced he was suffering from the disease in October 2013.
"Rangers is deeply saddened to announce that former player Fernando Ricksen passed away this morning following his battle with motor neurone disease," the Scottish club said on their official website. "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." Ricksen, who won 12 caps for the Netherlands and was signed by Rangers from AZ Alkmaar for 3.75 million pounds ($4.7 million) in 2000, raised awareness and funds to help other sufferers of motor neurone disease through the Fernando Ricksen Foundation.
A benefit match for the Dutchman, held at Ibrox in January 2015, saw more than 41,000 fans attend Ibrox and raised 320,000 pounds with the proceeds split between Fernando, his daughter Isabella, MND Scotland and the Rangers Charity Foundation. Ricksen left Rangers to join Zenit St Petersburg on a permanent deal in 2007 before returning to the Netherlands to join Fortuna Sittard. Peter Lovenkrands, who also joined Rangers in 2000 and spent six years with the Scottish club, paid tribute to his former teammate on social media.
The 39-year-old posted on Instagram: "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." Fortuna, currently second bottom in Eredivisie, and Zenit, second in the Russian top flight, both paid tribute on Twitter.