Former Rangers star Fernando Ricksen, who has been battling motor neurone disease since 2013, has invited fans to a special public appearance later this month which the Dutchman says will be his ‘final night’.
Ricksen, 42, made more than 250 appearances for Rangers during a six-year spell in Scottish football between 2000 and 2006, but his health has deteriorated seriously since his MND diagnosis several years ago.
The former midfielder and defender, who now weighs around 84lbs, is currently being cared for at the St Andrew’s Hospice in Airdrie, North Lanarkshire as he battles the illness.
In a video posted to social media by a friend of Ricksen’s, the player revealed details of ‘An Evening with Fernando Ricksen’ on June 28, in what is being billed as his final public appearance.
“Hello, I’m having a special night on the 28th,” Ricksen said 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 video clip has been viewed several thousand times on social media and, as of Monday afternoon, has been retweeted more than a thousand times.
Motor neurone disease is a degenerative illness which attacks the motor neurones, or nerves, in the brain and spinal cord. This leads to difficulties in proper body function and slowly impedes the ability to walk, talk, eat and even breathe.
Ricksen joined Rangers from Eredivisie side AZ in 2000 and stayed with the club until moving to Russian side Zenit St. Petersburg, initially on loan, and then in a permanent transfer in 2007.
The 12-cap former Dutch international won two Scottish league titles during his time in Glasgow, as well as a Russian Premier League crown with Zenit.
He set up a charitable organization, The Fernando Ricksen Federation, in 2016 to raise money to help fund research to help people affected by the disease.