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Steven Gerrard leads tributes to former Rangers captain Fernando Ricksen

The former Holland international has died at the age of 43.

Steven Gerrard has led the tributes to the late Rangers captain Fernando Ricksen, pictured (Lynne Cameron/PA)
Steven Gerrard has led the tributes to the late Rangers captain Fernando Ricksen, pictured (Lynne Cameron/PA)

By PA Sport Staff

Tributes have continued to pour in for former Rangers captain Fernando Ricksen after he died at the age of 43 following a fight against motor neurone disease.

The former Holland international had been battling the illness for six years since receiving the diagnosis in 2013, and Rangers announced his death on Wednesday morning.

Defender Ricksen played over 250 times for the Light Blues after joining from AZ Alkmaar in 2000, winning two league titles during his time in Glasgow.

He remained a firm favourite among the Rangers fans and spent his final months at St Andrew’s Hospice in Airdrie.

There will be a minute’s silence before Rangers’ Europa League clash with Feyenoord at Ibrox on Thursday night, while the home players will wear black armbands in Ricksen’s memory.

“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 on Wednesday 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.”

In recent years, Ricksen 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 over 41,000 fans attend Ibrox and raised £320,000 with the proceeds split between Fernando, his daughter Isabella, MND Scotland and the Rangers Charity Foundation.

Figures from across the world of football have paid tribute to Ricksen, with current Rangers boss Steven Gerrard saying: “He was a fantastic ambassador and role model for the club in the way he played but also how he handled himself off the pitch.

“I was lucky enough to meet him a couple of times, recently as well, when you could see that he was in pain and suffering but you could see the fight he was still putting up.”

Nacho Novo was one of many of Ricksen’s former team-mates who took to social media to express sorrow, posting on Instagram: “Sad news my friend my best friend a role model always a fighter love u to bits mate rip I will see u soon brother.”

Ricksen was labelled a “true warrior” by Peter Lovenkrands.

In an Instagram post, the former Rangers man 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.”

Ricksen’s former Holland team-mates Rafael Van Der Vaart and Jaap Stam also added their tributes.

Van Der Vaart wrote on Twitter: “You’ve spent the last few years fighting like a warrior, just like you always did on the pitch. Impressive! You’ll be missed. RIP Fernando Ricksen.”

Stam, who laid flowers outside Ibrox on Wednesday as he prepares to lead his Feyenoord side against Rangers, said in his press conference: “He was a player that was always willing to fight for everything on the pitch, in his life and within his disease as well.”

Celtic manager Neil Lennon said: “Our condolences go to his family and Glasgow Rangers as well. It’s a huge loss and I have felt it myself, for someone who I played against for a long, long time.”

PA

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