Former Rangers star Fernando Ricksen has died at the age of 43 following a battle with motor neurone disease (MND), the club have announced.
A statement from the club read: “Rangers is deeply saddened to announce that former player Fernando Ricksen passed away this morning following his battle with motor neurone disease.
“The thoughts of everyone at Rangers is today with his wife Veronika, his daughter Isabella and all his family and friends.”
Rangers is deeply saddened to announce that former player Fernando Ricksen passed away this morning following his battle with motor neurone disease.
— Rangers Football Club (@RangersFC) September 18, 2019
Ricksen spent six seasons at Ibrox, joining under Dick Avocaat in the summer of 2000.
After a tough start, he became a mainstay under Alex McLeish and was eventually made Rangers captain in January 2005.
That season, he was named Rangers’ Player of the Year as well as joint-SPFA Player of the Year with Celtic’s John Hartson.
He lifted the league trophy on the club’s famous ‘Helicopter Sunday’.
We are deeply saddened to hear that Fernando Ricksen has lost his courageous battle with Motor Neurone Disease. #MND
Fernando’s bravery in sharing both his shocking diagnosis and his life with MND has been inspirational. pic.twitter.com/VMUw53N8RS
— MND Scotland (@MNDScotland) September 18, 2019
Ricksen moved to Russian side Zenit in 2006 to again work under Advocaat, leaving in 2009 for his first club Fortuna Sittard where he played until his retirement.
He revealed his MND diagnosis in October 2013, and for the past six years has been a part of a fundraising and awareness campaign for the condition, including the Fernando Ricksen Foundation, which aims to help others suffering from the illness.
41,000 fans attended a benefit match at Ibrox in January 2015, where proceeds were split between Fernando, his daughter Isabella, MND Scotland and the Rangers Charity Foundation.
Everyone at the SPFL is deeply saddened to learn that former Rangers player Fernando Ricksen has passed away after his battle with motor neurone disease.
Our thoughts are with his family. pic.twitter.com/YaXljb3TwY
— SPFL (@spfl) September 18, 2019