Rangers Football Club has lost one of its legends today as Fernando Ricksen has tragically died at just 43 following a long battle with Motor Neurone Disease (MND).

The club confirmed the tragic news on social media via Twitter. They also made a statement on their website. 

In a statement, Rangers FC said: "Rangers is deeply saddened to announce that former player Fernando Ricksen passed away this morning following his battle with Motor Neurone Disease."

Rangers managing director Stewart Robertson added: “Everyone connected with Rangers will be distressed by Fernando’s passing. He fought so bravely against a terrible illness and our thoughts are with his family.

“Fernando will never be forgotten by his teammates or Rangers fans. His place in our history is secured.’

READ MORE: Fernando Ricksen dead: Tributes pour in for ex-Rangers star after he loses battle with motor neurone disease

Evening Times:

His fight with the debilitating disease not only brought the Scottish footballing community together, but it also united both sides of the Old Firm.

Born on July 27 1976 in Hoensbroek near the Dutch-German border, football ran in Ricksen’s blood.

His grandfather Willem Szymiczek won a Dutch title with Limburgia in 1950 but, had the family elder had his choice, Ricksen would have made his name on the green baize of the billiards table, having watched the youngster finish third in the national championships aged just 12.

The footballer is best known for his six-year spell at Glasgow Rangers Football Club where he won seven trophies.

He came from Dutch side AZ Alkmaar for a fee of £3.75million in 2000. He also made his mark playing for Fortuna Sittard and Zenit St Petersburg where he won the Russian Premier League crown.

READ MORE: Rangers and Celtic fans visit Ibrox to pay tribute to Fernando Ricksen

Evening Times:

The former Rangers captain’s career with the Ibrox side peaked during the 2004/2005 season when he jointly won the SPFA player of the year with Celtic’s John Hartson after scoring nine goals from midfield in 40 appearances for the club. That same year Rangers went on to win the league and league cup double.

He is also a member of Rangers Hall of Fame. 

Evening Times:

Evening Times:

As well as being a hero at club level, he also turned out 12 times for his country The Netherlands. His role in international football has been immortalised in an Orange Wall of Fame in the Netherlands among the likes of Ronald and Frank De Boer, Clarence Seedorf and Johan Cruyff.

But it was his fight off-field that caught the admiration of football fans across Scotland and the world after Ricksen was diagnosed with MND in October 2013. At the time he was given only 18 months to live but in a true testament to his strength and courage, he battled on to fight the muscle-wasting condition for several more years.

Evening Times:

He found new ways to manage living with MND including the use of a  voice-computer to communicate, similar to the one used by Professor Stephen Hawking and he continued to delight fans with public appearances at various fundraising events.

A benefit match was held at Ibrox in January 2015, and attracted over 41,000 fans to Ibrox. It raised £320,000 with the proceeds split between Fernando, his daughter Isabella, MND Scotland and the Rangers Charity Foundation.

The charity MND Scotland paid tribute to his fight saying: "We are deeply saddened to hear that Fernando Ricksen has lost his courageous battle with Motor Neurone Disease. Fernando’s bravery in sharing both his shocking diagnosis and his life with MND has been inspirational.

"Fernando raised so much awareness of MND, particularly through his documentary and from the Rangers Tribute Match in January 2015, which raised over £80,000 for MND Scotland.   This has helped us continue to support people affected by the disease throughout Scotland."

Evening Times:

Evening Times:

The Fernando Ricksen Foundation was also set up in his honour in June 2016 and promotes a message, which the star also had tattooed on his chest, “I am a warrior, a warrior with fighting spirit. I will never give up and never surrender.”

Fernando’s charity was created with the aim to defeat the disease. In his mission statement for the charity, Fernando said: “I have always said: one day there will be a man who defeats MND. Let me be that man. Let me the first human being who gets the beast on its knees. I know, it’s everything but a fair battle. This disease, this demon, is lethal. So I can’t do it entirely on my own. I need support – your support! So please stand behind me. Only together we can kick MND in the balls.”

Evening Times:

He was forced to spend his final months at St Andrew’s Hospice in Airdrie after taking ill at a fundraising event which was held in Glasgow last October. Before his death, he wanted to return to Valencia where he has set up the family home with his Russian wife Veronika, above, and six-year-old daughter Isabella but his illness made that impossible.

Evening Times:

His life was captured in the moving documentary Fernando Ricksen – The Final Battle which was shot in his native Holland and Spain.

The Dutch warrior also signalled his final defiant move against MND by getting a tattoo on his neck to show he had the heart of a lion.