Football world mourns the loss of Fernando Ricksen, 43

Fernando Ricksen as a player of FC Zenit
Fernando Ricksen as a player of FC Zenit. (Photo: fc-zenit.ru/Wikimedia Commons )

Former football player Fernando Ricksen died of degenerative muscle disease ALS at the age of 43 on Wednesday. Many of the football teams he played for responded with sadness to his death.

Ricksen was diagnosed with ALS in 2013. He had been staying in a hospice in Scotland since the start of this year and had already announced that he would die there, according to NU.nl. Over the past weeks, the footballer was only able to move his eyes, but could still communicate through a speech computer. 

Ricksen started and ended his football career at Fortuna in 1997 and 2013, and played for AZ, Rangers FC, FC Zenit, and the Dutch national team in between. Early last year Fortuna unveiled a statue of him. Ricksen, already in a wheelchair at that time, attended the unveiling.

Rangers FC in Scotland, where Ricksen played between 2000 and 2006, is "deeply saddened" by his passing, the club said on Twitter, along with a tribute video. 

"We're deeply saddened to hear of the passing of our former player Fernando Ricksen", FC Zenit in St Petersburg, where Ricksen played between 2007 and 2009, said on Twitter. "He battled bravely against motor neurone disease right until the end and we are all thinking of him and his family at this difficult time."

Ricksen played 12 matches for Oranje between 2000 and 2003. "We are saddened by the death of Fernando Ricksen and wish strength for his family", Dutch football association KNVB said on Twitter 

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