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Fernando Ricksen: Emotional tributes show the best of Scotland as Rangers and Celtic join to remember star

Rangers and Celtic fans left emtional tributes outside Ibrox as the Old Firm fans united to pay their respects to Fernando Ricksen.
Rangers and Celtic fans left emtional tributes outside Ibrox as the Old Firm fans united to pay their respects to Fernando Ricksen.

By Julian Taylor in the Sunday Life

Appropriately, the sunset had a powerful orange hue, dipping slowly and reassuringly around Ibrox. Fernando Ricksen would have approved.

The stars seemed to align too, as everyone at Rangers came together to pay emotional tributes to their former captain, who sadly passed away last week.

Dutchman Ricksen battled the awful motor neurone disease (MND) for six years in a manner which even eclipsed his incredible fighting spirit as a player.

The kind of commitment born out of the 'Little Chicago' area of Heerlen. Proud, resourceful and determined.

Ricksen may have spoken with a Dutch accent, naturally, but considering the warmth and care offered to him as he coped incredibly with MND's debilitating effects, the 43-year-old could almost be seen as an honorary Glaswegian: industrious, enthusiastic, committed to the cause - his transfer to Rangers back in 2000 from AZ Alkmaar was a somewhat protracted affair - with an ever-present mischievous glint in his eye.

In that, Light Blue regulars recognised Ricksen, undoubtedly one of the game's colourful characters and captain of the 2005 league title winning side, as one of their own.

Scotland's Player of the Year and versatile warrior enjoyed his finest hour, lifting the big prize on a dramatic day of last-minute glory.

Thursday's 1-0 Europa League victory against Feyenoord saw a pre-match Ibrox, unsurprisingly, cloaked with sensitivity, before an intense, noisy atmosphere helped forge Rangers to a superb performance and three well-deserved points.

For the most part, Jaap Stam's Eredivisie giants were blown away by the sort of punchy performance that Gerrard would love to patent as illustrative of his own, growing, managerial brand. The winning goal, a pile driver by Liverpool loanee Sheyi Ojo, was unmistakably Gerrard-esque from the days of his own Anfield pomp.

So, as Rangers travel to the more earthy environs of McDiarmid Park, to take on St Johnstone today, Gerrard is quite correct in stressing that his men look straight ahead. If his managerial ambitions are to be realised at Ibrox, then eradicating the sort of lukewarm display which saw the Gers lose 2-0 at home to Celtic, just after beating Legia Warsaw, needs to be addressed.

Gerrard has the luxury of choice, too.

He will make changes to freshen things up against Saints. Nikola Katic should come back into play for Filip Helander, who was outstanding against Feyenoord, or Connor Goldson could be rested. Alfredo Morelos may make way for Jermaine Defoe, despite a stellar showing by the Colombian on Thursday.

The noise and colour of Rangers' victory was just one aspect of the night against Netherlands opposition. In the build-up, Celtic boss Neil Lennon spoke poignantly about Ricksen, with whom he enjoyed many tussles.

Indeed, Lennon, upon returning from Celtic's own fine night in France - when the Scottish Champions earned a 1-1 Europa League draw against Rennes - joined the club chief executive, Peter Lawwell, to place a floral wreath at Ibrox in tribute.

A touch of class that was appreciated by the Rangers supporters in attendance.

What a real shame that it so often takes such desperately sad occasions to tease out the kind of genuine, fundamental kinship that Glaswegians are renowned for, across both halves of the Old Firm divide.

Forget the usual, out of proportion, tribal hysteria we get incessantly exposed to and sometimes meekly accept as 'just how it is' when it comes to the jarring factions.

Rather, think of the proper decency, the open compassion offered to the Ricksen family, by Rangers, the club's supporters (all through the player's long illness too, it must be said), Celtic and the rest of football.

The tributes on the gates of Ibrox, to a man who came from the Netherlands, and taken far too soon, show the best of Scotland, where Fernando Ricksen leaves his heart.

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

Tens of thousands in Ricksen's adopted city of Glasgow and beyond, love their respective clubs, but also, crucially, know there are more important matters in life. And, as a family coming together, Rangers, on and off the pitch, did a favourite son proud.

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