Fernando Ricksen – pal and former team-mate Arthur Numan can pay tribute

76

Ricksen always made you smile – Mols

Arthur Numan’s voice crackles with emotion as he remembers his friend, compatriot and former team-mate Fernando Ricksen.

Amid the sadness, though, a smile soon surfaces. That is the effect the “absolutely crazy” Dutchman had on people, from close pals to thousands of Rangers fans who idolised his total commitment in a blue jersey.

About Fernando
Fernando is a given name and a Surname common in Italy, Portugal, Spain, France, Switzerland and Sri Lanka (The name was introduced there during the Portugu√™s occupation) equivalent to the Germanic given name Ferdinand, with an original meaning of “adventurous, bold journey”.

Fernando Ricksen: Friend and former team-mate Arthur Numan pays tribute

About Ricksen:

Ricksen, who has died at aged 43 from motor neurone disease, had a wholehearted attitude to life on and off the pitch.

Numan spent three success-laden years alongside his fellow Holland international at Ibrox, and isn’t resorting to platitudes when he describes him as unique.

Fernando Ricksen: Friend and former team-mate Arthur Numan pays tribute

“I still remember when he signed for Rangers,” Numan told BBC Scotland. “After a couple of days I went to him and said, ‘Fernando, take it easy.’ Because from the moment he arrived, even on the training ground, he was up for it and wanted to show everybody he was good enough to play for Rangers.

“Even when we were warming up, he was tackling and sliding into players. We had to say, ‘Fernando, calm down, it’s not the World Cup final.’

“Straight from the beginning he gave 100% for the jersey, he was a winner. After Alex McLeish took over [as manager] he became captain of the team and was one of the leaders of the dressing room.”

Fans have been leaving tributes to Ricksen outside Ibrox

Ricksen sometimes featured on the front pages as well as the back, and his international career was curtailed at 12 caps.

His boisterous personality became part of Scottish football folklore, and Numan fondly remembers the night Ricksen held an impromptu fireworks display on his front lawn in the middle of the night.

“When you think about it you have to smile,” Numan said. “Off the park he was absolutely mental – one of the craziest guys I ever met in my career.

“[Rangers midfielder] Ronald de Boer and Celtic’s Alan Thompson were living next to him and everyone was woken up at about 4am thinking what the heck is happening here. Fernando had gone out clubbing then came home and, as it was October, he had fireworks in his garage and brought them out to the street and set them all off.

“He liked to party. Sometimes when we went abroad with the team, Dick Adovocaat would tell me to look after Fernando. I tried to do it twice, and then the third I said I’m not going to do that any more. He was 24/7, full of energy.

“If he had been a little more quiet he would have played more games for Holland.”

After his MND diagnosis in 2013, Ricksen fought the disease with the same battling qualities that were the hallmark of his playing career.

Numan, on a visit back to Scotland, saw his friend a couple weeks ago but hoped it wouldn’t be their final meeting.

“He was lying in his bed in the hospice unable to move or talk. He had the screen in front of him and could make some sentences – ‘Hi guys, how you doing? Good to see you’ – that was the only communication.

“And last weekend I was over in Scotland with Jorg Albertz and Michael Mols. We wanted to go and see Fernando, but they said no one was allowed in the room any more so we knew the situation was really bad.

“But he fought for nearly six years against it and that shows how he is as a person and as a character – never give up, always give 100% and go for it.”