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Some Christmas cheer for Rangers and Falkirk star David Hagen’s MND fight

David Hagen’s sister, Kirstin Horner, shows off the signed Scotland top that will now take its place in his hospice room alongside the others from his club days, including a spell at Rangers
David Hagen’s sister, Kirstin Horner, shows off the signed Scotland top that will now take its place in his hospice room alongside the others from his club days, including a spell at Rangers

The family of David Hagen are planning a special Christmas treat for the former Rangers and Falkirk star.

The 46-year-old was diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND) last year and will spend the festive season in the hospice where he now lives.

David’s playing career kicked off while Graeme Souness was manager of Rangers, and he went on to have a long career that saw time at Hearts, Falkirk, Livingston, Clyde and Peterhead.

Now his sister, Kirstin Horner, has put together a collection of jerseys and arranged for them to be displayed there for his enjoyment.

And The Sunday Post was honoured to make a contribution to that last Thursday, when we presented Kirstin with a signed Scotland top to mark David’s years representing his country at various age groups, including the Under-21s.

Last July it was revealed he had been diagnosed with the same incurable disease that struck down Jimmy Johnstone in 2002, Fernando Ricksen this year and counts rugby legend, Doddie Weir, among its current sufferers.

Said Kirstin: “The clubs David played for have given us shirts for him, for which we are so grateful,” she said.

“Thanks to the Scottish FA and The Sunday Post, we have also managed to get a Scotland top, so we will have them all.

“David had a great career, and these will hopefully rekindle some special memories for him of what was a very happy time in his life.”

Those times have been highlighted in a special video put together by Tom McMillan, one of Hagen’s team-mates in Scotland’s celebrated run to the Under-16 World Cup Final in 1989.

“Although it is such a long time ago now, the boys who were in that Under-16 squad have a bond that will never be taken away from us,” said Brian O’Neil, one of a host of former players and coaches to send a message to Hagen.

“We are all thinking of you and your family.”

Winners against East Germany in the quarter-finals at Pittodrie and against Portugal in the semis at Tynecastle, the Scots were undone in hugely-controversial circumstances in the Hampden showpiece.

Their Saudi Arabian opposition appeared to be comprised not so much of Under-16s as Under-60s.

“We should be sitting here with gold medals, David. What were they, 40-year-olds?” said Eddie Conville, tapping into the later revelation that one of the Saudi side had been a captain in the army and a married father of three at the time of the competition.

As Craig Brown – coach of the side and of the Scotland Under-21 team who Hagen later played for – revealed, his former charge put early disappointment behind him to kick on in his senior career.

“You were an outstanding player at the age levels and went on to do admirably well with Rangers, Falkirk and Clyde – three clubs I have also been involved with,” he said.

Alex Totten, Hagen’s manager at Falkirk, paid tribute to the forward’s efforts in the Bairns’ run to the 1997 Scottish Cup Final.

“You did so much to help us get through the early rounds against Dunfermline and Raith Rovers and, of course, the two ties we had against Celtic in the semi-finals,” he said.

“Unfortunately we didn’t manage to win the trophy itself (they lost 1-0 to Kilmarnock in the Final), but it was a great campaign.”

Former Rangers and Scotland skipper Davie Weir spoke fondly of the time the two men spent playing alongside and against each other for Hearts, Rangers and “all over the place”.

And there was a touching message, meanwhile, from Kris Doolan, a Partick Thistle legend now playing for Ayr United.

Thirteen years younger than Hagen, he said he had been an inspiration to him back when he was a young player trying to make his way in the game.

Hagen started his pro career in 1992 with Rangers, and played in the Champions League against Club Brugge and Levski Sofia. After spells with six clubs, he rounded it off with a season at junior outfit, Bo’ness United.