Belfast Telegraph

An emotional Ibrox farewell for Rangers hero Fernando Ricksen

Fernando Ricksen
Fernando Ricksen
Fans pay respects to Fernando Ricksen as the funeral cortege passes Ibrox
Ricksen’s wife Veronika at the funeral
Celtic boss Neil Lennon at the funeral

By David Reed

Celtic boss Neil Lennon was among the mourners at the funeral of Rangers star Fernando Ricksen yesterday.

Ex-team-mates joined his family and thousands of fans for a final farewell to the 43-year-old former footballer, who died last Wednesday after a long battle with motor neurone disease.

Supporters of the Glasgow club gathered outside Ibrox Stadium as the funeral cortege of the former Gers captain halted briefly outside.

The Rangers first team stood at the front door of Ibrox to join supporters in paying tribute to the Dutchman. Ricksen's wife Veronika and their family, wearing black football tops with his surname and the number two on the back, left the cars and went into the stadium for a few minutes. Shortly before the cortege's arrival at the ground Rangers manager Steven Gerrard and the first team were dropped off by a coach.

Fans applauded the squad's arrival and continued as two other coaches drove past - with one carrying nurses who had cared for Ricksen, as well as club legends Mark Hateley and Richard Gough.

Mourners also gathered at Wellington Church in Glasgow, where the funeral service was held. A number of Ricksen's former Rangers team-mates, including Tore Andre Flo, Nacho Novo, Neil McCann and Peter Lovenkrands arrived together.

Former Northern Ireland midfielder Lennon, who came up against Ricksen in his playing days, was also in attendance.

Jim Boyd, who had come to Ibrox from Livingston, West Lothian, where Rangers play tonight, said: "He was solid, he was just brilliant.

"It's sad but proud as well, it just shows you how much people liked the guy as a footballer and a person.

"I'd met him a couple of times at the training and he always took time out to take pictures and sign stuff.

Rangers fans and players gathered to pay tribute to Fernando Ricksen outside the club's Ibrox stadium.
Rangers fans and players gathered to pay tribute to Fernando Ricksen outside the club's Ibrox stadium.
The Funeral procession of former Rangers player Fernando Ricksen passes Ibrox Stadium home of Glasgow Rangers. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday September 25, 2019. The former Holland international died aged 43 a week ago, six years after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease. Ricksen played more than 250 times for the Light Blues after joining from AZ Alkmaar in 2000, winning two league titles during his time in Glasgow. See PA story SOCCER Ricksen. Photo credit should read: Jane Barlow/PA Wire.
A Rangers fan holds an order of service for former Rangers player Fernando Ricksen at Ibrox Stadium. The funeral procession will pass Ibrox Stadium later today before making the journey to Wellington Church. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday September 25, 2019. The former Holland international died aged 43 a week ago, six years after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease. Ricksen played more than 250 times for the Light Blues after joining from AZ Alkmaar in 2000, winning two league titles during his time in Glasgow. See PA story SOCCER Ricksen. Photo credit should read: Jane Barlow/PA Wire.
Pallbearer's including former Rangers players Michael Mols and Nacho Novo carry the coffin of former Rangers footballer Fernando Ricksen at Wellington Church, Glasgow. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday September 25, 2019. The former Holland international died aged 43 a week ago, six years after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease. Ricksen played more than 250 times for the Light Blues after joining from AZ Alkmaar in 2000, winning two league titles during his time in Glasgow. See PA story SOCCER Ricksen. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire.
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 25: Fans pay their respects to former Rangers player Fernando Ricksen as his funeral cortege makes its way past Ibrox Stadium, along Paisley Road West on September 25, 2019 in Glasgow, Scotland. The Dutch international died last week at the age of 43 after battling motor neurone disease since 2013. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Tributes for former Rangers player Fernando Ricksen at Ibrox Stadium. The funeral procession will pass Ibrox Stadium later today before making the journey to Wellington Church. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday September 25, 2019. The former Holland international died aged 43 a week ago, six years after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease. Ricksen played more than 250 times for the Light Blues after joining from AZ Alkmaar in 2000, winning two league titles during his time in Glasgow. See PA story SOCCER Ricksen. Photo credit should read: Jane Barlow/PA Wire.
Veronika Ricksen (wife of Fernando Ricksen) attends the funeral of her husband former Rangers footballer Fernando Ricksen at Wellington Church, Glasgow. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday September 25, 2019. The former Holland international died aged 43 a week ago, six years after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease. Ricksen played more than 250 times for the Light Blues after joining from AZ Alkmaar in 2000, winning two league titles during his time in Glasgow. See PA story SOCCER Ricksen. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire.
The Funeral procession of former Rangers player Fernando Ricksen passes Ibrox Stadium home of Glasgow Rangers. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday September 25, 2019. The former Holland international died aged 43 a week ago, six years after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease. Ricksen played more than 250 times for the Light Blues after joining from AZ Alkmaar in 2000, winning two league titles during his time in Glasgow. See PA story SOCCER Ricksen. Photo credit should read: Jane Barlow/PA Wire.
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 25: Fans pay their respects to former Rangers player Fernando Ricksen as his funeral cortege makes it's way past Ibrox Stadium, along Paisley Road West on September 25, 2019 in Glasgow, Scotland. The Dutch international died last week at the age of 43 after battling motor neurone disease since 2013. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Rangers manager Steven Gerrard former Rangers footballer Fernando Ricksen at Wellington Church, Glasgow. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday September 25, 2019. The former Holland international died aged 43 a week ago, six years after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease. Ricksen played more than 250 times for the Light Blues after joining from AZ Alkmaar in 2000, winning two league titles during his time in Glasgow. See PA story SOCCER Ricksen. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire.
The Funeral procession of former Rangers player Fernando Ricksen passes Ibrox Stadium home of Glasgow Rangers. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday September 25, 2019. The former Holland international died aged 43 a week ago, six years after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease. Ricksen played more than 250 times for the Light Blues after joining from AZ Alkmaar in 2000, winning two league titles during his time in Glasgow. See PA story SOCCER Ricksen. Photo credit should read: Jane Barlow/PA Wire.
Tributes for former Rangers player Fernando Ricksen at Ibrox Stadium. The funeral procession will pass Ibrox Stadium later today before making the journey to Wellington Church. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday September 25, 2019. The former Holland international died aged 43 a week ago, six years after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease. Ricksen played more than 250 times for the Light Blues after joining from AZ Alkmaar in 2000, winning two league titles during his time in Glasgow. See PA story SOCCER Ricksen. Photo credit should read: Jane Barlow/PA Wire.
Pallbearer's including former Rangers players Michael Mols, Nacho Novo and Thomas Buffel at the funeral of former Rangers footballer Fernando Ricksen at Wellington Church, Glasgow. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday September 25, 2019. The former Holland international died aged 43 a week ago, six years after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease. Ricksen played more than 250 times for the Light Blues after joining from AZ Alkmaar in 2000, winning two league titles during his time in Glasgow. See PA story SOCCER Ricksen. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire.
Celtic manager Neil Lennon attends the funeral of former Rangers footballer Fernando Ricksen at Wellington Church, Glasgow. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday September 25, 2019. The former Holland international died aged 43 a week ago, six years after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease. Ricksen played more than 250 times for the Light Blues after joining from AZ Alkmaar in 2000, winning two league titles during his time in Glasgow. See PA story SOCCER Ricksen. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire.
Peter Lovenkrands and Tore Andre Flo attend the funeral of former Rangers footballer Fernando Ricksen at Wellington Church, Glasgow. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday September 25, 2019. The former Holland international died aged 43 a week ago, six years after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease. Ricksen played more than 250 times for the Light Blues after joining from AZ Alkmaar in 2000, winning two league titles during his time in Glasgow. See PA story SOCCER Ricksen. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire.
Steven Thompson and Billy Dodds (right) attend the funeral of former Rangers footballer Fernando Ricksen at Wellington Church, Glasgow. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday September 25, 2019. The former Holland international died aged 43 a week ago, six years after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease. Ricksen played more than 250 times for the Light Blues after joining from AZ Alkmaar in 2000, winning two league titles during his time in Glasgow. See PA story SOCCER Ricksen. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire.
Bobby Petta attends the funeral of former Rangers footballer Fernando Ricksen at Wellington Church, Glasgow. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday September 25, 2019. The former Holland international died aged 43 a week ago, six years after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease. Ricksen played more than 250 times for the Light Blues after joining from AZ Alkmaar in 2000, winning two league titles during his time in Glasgow. See PA story SOCCER Ricksen. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire.
Neil McCann attends the funeral of former Rangers footballer Fernando Ricksen at Wellington Church, Glasgow. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday September 25, 2019. The former Holland international died aged 43 a week ago, six years after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease. Ricksen played more than 250 times for the Light Blues after joining from AZ Alkmaar in 2000, winning two league titles during his time in Glasgow. See PA story SOCCER Ricksen. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire.
Arthur Numan attends the funeral of former Rangers footballer Fernando Ricksen at Wellington Church, Glasgow. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday September 25, 2019. The former Holland international died aged 43 a week ago, six years after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease. Ricksen played more than 250 times for the Light Blues after joining from AZ Alkmaar in 2000, winning two league titles during his time in Glasgow. See PA story SOCCER Ricksen. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire.
Richard Gough attends the funeral of former Rangers footballer Fernando Ricksen at Wellington Church, Glasgow. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday September 25, 2019. The former Holland international died aged 43 a week ago, six years after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease. Ricksen played more than 250 times for the Light Blues after joining from AZ Alkmaar in 2000, winning two league titles during his time in Glasgow. See PA story SOCCER Ricksen. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire.
The Funeral procession of former Rangers player Fernando Ricksen passes Ibrox Stadium home of Glasgow Rangers. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday September 25, 2019. The former Holland international died aged 43 a week ago, six years after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease. Ricksen played more than 250 times for the Light Blues after joining from AZ Alkmaar in 2000, winning two league titles during his time in Glasgow. See PA story SOCCER Ricksen. Photo credit should read: Jane Barlow/PA Wire.
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 25: Fans pay their respects to former Rangers player Fernando Ricksen as his funeral cortege makes its way past Ibrox Stadium, along Paisley Road West on September 25, 2019 in Glasgow, Scotland. The Dutch international died last week at the age of 43 after battling motor neurone disease since 2013. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 25: Fans pay their respects to former Rangers player Fernando Ricksen as his funeral cortege makes it's way past Ibrox Stadium, along Paisley Road West on September 25, 2019 in Glasgow, Scotland. The Dutch international died last week at the age of 43 after battling motor neurone disease since 2013. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 25: Fans pay their respects to former Rangers player Fernando Ricksen as his funeral cortege makes it's way past Ibrox Stadium, along Paisley Road West on September 25, 2019 in Glasgow, Scotland. The Dutch international died last week at the age of 43 after battling motor neurone disease since 2013. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Floral tributes outside the stadium for former Rangers player Fernando Ricksen before the UEFA Europa League Group G match at Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow. PA Photo. Picture date: Thursday September 19, 2019. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
Rangers fans with a banner in memory of former player Fernando Ricksen before the UEFA Europa League Group G match at Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow. PA Photo. Picture date: Thursday September 19, 2019. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
A Celtic shirt outside the stadium with a tribute for former Rangers player Fernando Ricksen before the UEFA Europa League Group G match at Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow. PA Photo. Picture date: Thursday September 19, 2019. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
Celtic players take part in a minute's applause as a tribute to former Rangers player Fernando Ricksen before the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match at Celtic Park, Glasgow. PA Photo. Picture date: Sunday September 22, 2019. See PA story SOCCER Celtic. Photo credit should read: Ian Rutherford/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Tribute to former Rangers player Fernando Ricksen before the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match at Celtic Park, Glasgow. PA Photo. Picture date: Sunday September 22, 2019. See PA story SOCCER Celtic. Photo credit should read: Ian Rutherford/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Floral tributes outside the stadium for former Rangers player Fernando Ricksen before the UEFA Europa League Group G match at Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow. PA Photo. Picture date: Thursday September 19, 2019. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

"He could have a laugh with you and stop and talk to you, he was really good."

Another fan, Stefan Souttar, had only watched highlights of Ricksen but said: "You see all the different clubs here (among the tributes). I've seen a Villarreal scarf and all the Celtic tops. It just shows he was a well-liked guy. Even though there's the Rangers and Celtic rivalry, they come together for respect."

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.

After diagnosis in 2013 Ricksen spent his years battling motor neurone disease and 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 News 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.

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