A MINUTE’S silence will be observed at a football match on Wednesday night at Ballymena Showgrounds between Ballymena United and Rangers Colts in memory of former Ibrox star Fernando Ricksen who has died at the age of 43.
Ballymena host the Rangers side in a cup competition.
Ballymena United said on social media: ‘In light of the sad passing of ex-Rangers FC player Fernando Ricksen, a minute’s silence in his memory will be observed before tonight’s Tunnocks Caramel Wafer Challenge Cup tie. The thoughts of Ballymena United FC are with Fernando’s family and all connected with Rangers FC.’
Ricksen passed away after a six-year battle with motor neurone disease, the Ibrox club confirmed on Wednesday.
The Dutch international had been battling the condition since 2013.
Ricksen was a fans’ favourite during his six-year spell at Rangers after being signed by Dick Advocaat in 2000.
He helped the Ibrox club win the domestic cup double in 2002, the treble in 2003 and was captain for a trophy double in 2005.
Rangers said they were “deeply saddened” to be announcing the news of Ricksen’s passing.
“The thoughts of everyone at Rangers is today with his wife Veronika, his daughter Isabella and all his family and friends,” the club added.
After diagnosis in 2013, Ricksen spent his years battling motor neurone disease campaigning and raising money to find a cure for the debilitating condition, which affects the affects the nerves and causes weakness over time.
His charity has raised over £1m in a bid to help scientists with research.
Speaking to ITV News in June, when he used eye movements to talk via a computer, Ricksen urged those in sport to do more to help pressure drugs companies to find a cure.
“The sports world could put more pressure on the pharmaceutical companies,” he said. “This disease is not lucrative enough so it has no priority.
“If tomorrow an MND epidemic came we would have a cure within a week. It’s disgusting but a reality.”
The former Dutch international also opened up about his own battle with the illness.
“Your body doesn’t want to anymore but your brain is functioning without problems. You start losing the ability to speak. Then the legs start to get wobbly. Then you can’t lift your legs anymore and you start falling.
“Don’t give up,” was his message to others inflicted with MND.
Ricksen arrived at Rangers from AZ Alkmaar after starting his career at Fortuna Sittard. He left Ibrox for Russian side Zenit St Petersburg and was there reunited with Advocaat.
He was part of the Zenit squad that reached the 2008 Uefa Cup final against Rangers, though he did not feature as the Russian side won 2-0.
Between 2000 and 2003, Ricksen won 12 caps for his country.