Fernando Ricksen has passed away aged 43 years old, the football club Rangers FC reported. He had been living with motor neurone disease for about five years.
Rangers FC were deeply saddened by the death of Ricksen, tweeting to express their sympathies to Ricksen’s family. “Our thoughts are with his wife Veronica, his daughter Isabella, and all his family and friends,” the club stated.
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
The Limburgian ex-footballer played for Fortuna Sittard, AZ, the Glasgow Rangers, and FC Zenit Saint-Petersburg, among others, between 1993 and 2013. He played twelve international matches for the Netherlands between 2000 and 2003, but it was during his time in Glasgow that he was at his peak as a footballer. In 2008 he won the European League with the top club in Russia.
Throughout his career, Ricksen struggled with alcohol addiction, and had his time in Russia cut shot due to a doping ban because of his cocaine usage, according to NOS.
Ricksen rose to public attention in 2013, after he did a performance at De Wereld Draait Door on October 30. During the broadcast, he revealed that he was struggling with motor neurone disease. A few months earlier he had said goodbye to his first love as a football player, Fortuna Sittard.
Motor neurone disease is a neurodegenerative disease that progressively affects motor neurons, which control voluntary movement in the body. Currently, there are no cures for the disease.
He spent the last months of his life in Scotland, where he was cared for in a hospice. He was not ashamed to be seen in the hospice, welcoming many vistors during his time there. He told RTL news in February, via a voice computer, that he was not expecting pity.
Ricksen was not afraid of death, he said. “I am often asked that question. But I always think that is such a weird question. Does everyone die anyway? Of course, the chance that I will go earlier is greater, but in the end we all have a turn.”
He worked to raise money for research on motor neurone disease through the Fernando Ricksen Foundation.
As a tribute, a statue of Ricksen has been standing in he Fortuna Sittard stadium since January 2018. The footballer called it “the greatest tribute a person could get”.