Neil Lennon has paid a touching tribute to Fernando Ricksen, who died yesterday after a long illness.
The Celtic boss said he was “very, very upset” at the news of Ricksen’s passing at just 43 years old after a six-year battle with Motor Neurone Disease.
Speaking at a press conference ahead of tonight’s match against Rennes, Lennon said of his former opponent: “It’s tragic. I am very, very upset for his family obviously.
“For someone who I played against in many battles in a time where both teams were very, very strong in Glasgow, in a very good era in Scottish football.
“For the Glasgow public to lose him at such a young age is devastating. He put up an unbelievable fight.
“As a player, he got better and better in his time in Glasgow at Rangers, to the point he became player of the year.
“He turned out to be an outstanding footballer, a great competitor.
“He was emotional to start with in his career but he really matured into a very fine player.
“Our condolences go to his family and to Glasgow Rangers as well. It’s a huge loss and I have felt it myself, for someone who I played against for a long, long time.”
Ricksen was stricken in the prime of his life with an illness so cruel, horrific and devastating that the words are barely sufficient. Like Jimmy Johnstone before him, he faced it with incredible courage and dignity.
He overcame adversity in his early days at Ibrox to become an important figure for the team, but it was his iron will to live after the grim diagnosis that earned him the respect of everyone, regardless of their team. This was a man with guts.