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ALLY TRIBUTE TO ‘REAL FIGHTER’ FERNANDO

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ALLY McCOIST has paid a touching tribute to former Rangers captain Fernando Ricksen who passed away yesterday after losing his gallant battle against Motor Neurone Disease.

The ex-Holland international player died at the age of 43 after being diagnosed with the illness six years ago.

Ibrox legend McCoist expects the club’s opening Europa League group game against Feyenoord in Glasgow this evening to be a special occasion.

The one-time Gers player and manager, speaking on  talkSPORT, said: “It will be unbelievably emotional.

“As you would hope and expect the tributes have been coming throughout European football.

“The biggest compliment I can pay Fernando – and he was a lad full of fun and there was never a dull moment – is that he was daft enough that he wouldn’t have looked out of place in our squad with Gascoigne and others like that.

“Don’t get me wrong he could play, as well. You don’t play for your country if you’re not a player. But some of the stories – he was a real character.”

McCoist, 56, labelled Ricksen, who won the PFA Scotland Player of the Year alongside Celtic’s John Hartson in 2005, a “real fighter”.

He added: “When I heard the news yesterday I thought to myself, what a fight, what a fighter. He was trying to raise as much money as he could even in the last months of his illness for others suffering that particular illness.

“He was a real fighter and I just can’t help but think about his wife Veronika and his wee daughter Isabella.

“The fact that you have a fair idea it’s coming sometime still doesn’t soften the blow.

“It’s definitely brought Scottish football together. I noticed Neil Lennon had a brilliant quote as did Peter Lawwell and a lot of the clubs up in Scotland have come out with some lovely quotes, but it’s very, very sad.”

Ricksen, who made 12 appearances for his country, won two league titles, two Scottish Cups and three League Cups during his six-year spell with Rangers between 2000 and 2006.

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Editor

Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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