Fernando Ricksen death unites Rangers and Celtic fans as football world pays tribute

FERNANDO RICKSEN’S death has seen tributes flood in from fans of Rangers and rivals Celtic.

The former Ibrox skipper passed away today aged 43 after a six-year battle with motor neurone disease.

Fernando Ricksen’s death saw Celtic and Rangers fans pay tribute

 

And the football world has come together to mourn the passing of the Dutchman.

Ricksen was described as a “fighter” and a “true Ranger” by Ibrox supporters.

While a Celtic account tweeted: “RIP Fernando Ricksen. We enjoyed booing you in a Rangers jersey and we know you loved it!

“Nothing but respect for you and how you’ve dealt with your horrible illness. Thoughts and prayers with your loved ones.”

And Hoops legend Stiliyan Petrov added: “Rest in Peace my friend  true fighter on and off the pitch. My thoughts are with your family & friends #MND”

Rangers said in a statement: “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.”

What is motor neurone disease?

Motor neurone disease is a rare condition.

About two in every 100,000 Brits develop it each year.

It affects specialist nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, causing the function of motor neurons to break down.

When this neurodegeneration occurs, everyday activities become increasingly difficult or completely impossible.

Over time, the condition progressively worsens as the muscle weakens and can visibly waste.

The majority of those diagnosed with the disease are given a three-year life expectancy starting from when they first notice the symptoms.

Ricksen was pictured for the final time smiling with his wife and daughter just two weeks before he died.

The ace helped Rangers win two league titles, two Scottish Cups and three League Cups – gaining legendary status among fans.

Earlier this year, SunSport told how the beloved footballer celebrated his birthday with his family.

The Light Blues icon had a birthday cake made for him as his hospice room was decorated with balloons and banners.

Earlier this year the former defender — diagnosed with the muscle-wasting illness in 2013 — confirmed he’d spend the rest of his life in the hospice.

He moved there from hospital in November after falling ill at an Ibrox bash.

Medics ruled him too unwell to return home to Spain.

Ricksen played 182 games for the Glasgow giants from 2000 to 2006 — netting 13 goals.

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