SPORT
31/10/2013 05:52 GMT

Fernando Ricksen, Former Rangers Defender, Diagnosed With Motor Neurone Disease

Vara

Former Rangers captain Fernando Ricksen revealed on live TV that he has been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease.

The Dutch defender told interviewers in his homeland: "I am very sick. I am fighting for my life."

The 37-year-old received the news he was suffering from the incurable illness only two weeks ago.

fernando ricksen

Ricksen hoists the Scottish Cup after Rangers' defeat of Celtic in 2002

But declaring his determination to fight for his health for the sake of his wife Veronica and their daughter Isabella, he told the Scottish Sun: "I have feared for a couple of months I was in trouble - it is very hard to take.

"Inside me there is a fighting spirit, there always has been. I will fight this - I know it will be difficult but I will battle all the way. I have Veronica and Isabella - they are my second life and I have to try."

Ricksen is understood to have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a form of the rare degenerative condition that attacks the central nervous system.

fernando ricksen

Ricksen is struck by an object during one of many fraught Old Firm clashes

As the illness progresses, sufferers find it increasingly difficult to walk, speak, swallow and breathe.

Ricksen signed for Rangers in a deal worth around £4million in 2006 but left to sign for Russian side Zenit St Petersburg later that year after falling out with then Ibrox boss Paul Le Guen.

He won two Scottish Premier League titles, two Scottish Cups and three League Cups during his six-year spell with the Light Blues and was also named joint SPFA Player of the Year in 2004-05 alongside Celtic striker John Hartson.