Rangers football veteran Fernando Ricksen, fighting MND, invites fans to join him for ‘my final night’

Fernando Ricksen played for Rangers between 2000 and 2006. (Credit: Getty Images)
Fernando Ricksen played for Rangers between 2000 and 2006. (Credit: Getty Images)

Rangers star Fernando Ricksen has called on fans to join him for a ‘final night’ as he continues to battle motor neurone disease.

Ricksen, who played in defence and midfield for the Scottish Premier League club, appeared in a video posted to Twitter on Sunday.

He joins the likes of American footballer Mike Webster, former Leeds and England boss Don Revie and former Scotland rugby star Doddie Weir with the disease, the latter revealing his diagnosis in 2017.

The Dutchman, a veteran of more than 250 games for Rangers, posted a video from a Twitter account inviting fans to join him for what he says will be his final public appearance.

“Hello, I’m having a special night on the 28th,” said Ricksen, speaking with the aid of a computer-generated voice. “Since it’s getting very difficult for me, this will be my final night.

“Come and make this a night to remember.

“Hopefully see you soon, Fernando.”

The event with the 42-years-old will be at An Evening With Fernando Ricksen at the GoGlasgow Urban Hotel.

He set up the Fernando Ricksen Foundation in 2016 to help raise money to fight the disease.

A tweet by Dutch journalist Vincent de Vries carried further quotes from Ricksen.

“I would like to emphasise on the fact that June 28th will be my final public appearance,” read the tweet.

“In other words: I do NOT have the intention to make it my final day. I will continue fighting, the rest of the battling is just going to happen out of the limelights.”

The 42-year-old has been battling the disease since 2013 alongside his wife Veronika and young daughter Isabella.

As well as playing for Rangers between 2000 and 2006, Ricksen appeared 12 times for the Dutch national team.

What is MND?

Motor neurone disease is a fatal disease which affects the brain and nerves, causing a weakness which worsens over time.

It substantially shortens life expectancy but can be lived with for a number of years, and is a result of motor neurones stopping their function.

According to the NHS website, it mostly affects adults in their 60s or 70s, but can strike at any time.

Who else has the disease?

A number of sporting figures have suffered from MND over the years.

Patrick Grange, a former Chicago Fire player, died aged 29 in 2012 after a battle with the disease.

And studies have shown a possible link between football and the disease, as reported in the Daily Record in 2017.

Dr Ann McKee, chief of neuropathology at Boston University, diagnosed Grange and said he showed signs of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, potentially instigated by repeated heading of the ball.

“He was so young when he died,” she said. “His brain was really scary. You could see tremendous atrophy of his frontal lobes.

“At death, he clearly had CTE. It affected his brain in a very substantial way.”

Other figures include Celtic and Scotland icon Jimmy Johnstone, American footballer Mike Webster, former Leeds and England boss Don Revie as well as Scotland rugby star Doddie Weir.

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