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Warm tributes flood in for Ibrox great Fernando

Leader: Fernando Ricksen won the league as Rangers captain
Leader: Fernando Ricksen won the league as Rangers captain

By Andy Newport

Tributes poured in for Fernando Ricksen following the death of the former Rangers full-back at the age of 43.

The ex-Holland international, who made more than 250 appearances for the Ibrox club between 2000 and 2006 following his arrival from AZ Alkmaar, had been fighting motor neurone disease for six years.

"Rangers is deeply saddened to announce that former player Fernando Ricksen passed away this morning following his battle with motor neurone disease," a club statement read.

"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.

"The thoughts of everyone at Rangers is today with his wife Veronika, his daughter Isabella and all his family and friends."

Ricksen was labelled a "true warrior" by former team-mate Peter Lovenkrands.

In an Instagram post, the Dane wrote: "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."

Former team-mate Nacho Novo also took to social media to express his sorrow, posting: "Sad news my friend, my best friend. A role model always, a fighter. Love you to bits mate. RIP. I will see you soon brother."

Figures from across the world of football sent their condolences, including former Celtic striker John Hartson, who tweeted: "Sorry to hear Fernando Ricksen has passed away. Fought until the end. My thoughts are with his immediate family and friends. RIP Fernando."

Alex McLeish has revealed the huge surge of pride he felt after his gamble on naming Ricksen Rangers captain hit the jackpot on 'Helicopter Sunday'.

Stefan Klos started the 2004-05 campaign wearing the armband but it was soon handed over to the fiery Dutchman when the German goalkeeper suffered a season-ending injury. Former skipper Barry Ferguson returned soon after, but McLeish stuck by his original call and it proved to be the right one as Ricksen led Rangers to a domestic double.

McLeish's team fought against the odds to pip Celtic to the title in dramatic circumstances on the final day of the season at Easter Road, and the former Scotland boss says the sight of Ricksen lifting the Scottish Premier League trophy that day is his most cherished memory.

McLeish said: "He was brilliant in the role. He actually ended up playing the role of peacemaker a lot of the time. It was a big change for Fernando but, even when Barry came back, I kept Fernando as skipper.

"We went on to win two trophies that year, culminating in that famous day at Easter Road.

"That was one of his proudest moments. I was so proud to see him lifting that trophy."

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