‘I can make the impossible possible’ – Fernando Ricksen fights on
“I am convinced we can make the impossible possible,” Fernando Ricksen told fans at his testimonial in Sittard on Sunday.
It was a warm and sunny Sunday evening in May in the south of Holland. Usually a perfect setting to relax and kick back without a care in the world.
This Sunday, though, was the opposite. It was a highly charged and emotional evening as fans and former players alike turned out to show their unconditional support for a suffering hero.
It was a thrilling encounter as the player’s former team Fortuna faced Team Fernando, consisting of former team-mates such as Ronald de Boer, Roy Makaay, Mark van Bommel, Nacho Novo, Giovanni van Bronckhorst, Ronald Waterreus, Anatoliy Tymoschuck and more, faced off in a testimonial. It was the legends who emerged victorious from the game, which was broadcast live on Fox Sports in the Netherlands, winning 5-2, with Ricksen himself scoring the final goal from the penalty spot in injury time.
As the former Fortuna, AZ, Rangers, Zenit and Netherlands player rolled the ball into the net with the final kick of the game, the cheers and the tributes for him did too.
“Fernando Ricksen is our legend” read an incredibly impressive banner which covered most of the stand behind the goal, which, it was revealed, will be renamed the “Fernando Ricksen Tribune”.
The player was carried up on the shoulders of his former teammates, then it was the Fortuna supporters who had their turn to lift their legend up.
The chants rang out, full of fervour and passion. “We love you Ricksen, we do”. And boy, did they show it.
It has been over seven months since Fernando announced live on Dutch TV that he is suffering from Motor Neurone Disease.
Since that revelation, the support for the 37-year-old has increased immensely throughout the world and it all culminated in a thoroughly emotional night in Sittard.
The fans cheered, chanted and applauded Ricksen to show they are well and truly behind him.
It didn’t take long for the tears to start rolling down the former defender’s cheeks and there would have been a lot more tears being shed in the stand filled with a great crowd of fans who would do anything to get him out of situation in which he currently finds himself.
Unfortunately, such is the severity of this despicable disease, there isn’t anyone who can help Fernando through this difficult time.
Throughout his playing career, Ricksen was a tough, battling figure. He fought for every ball and did everything in his power to win the game.
Now, in retirement, he is faced with a completely different battle. It isn’t points or loose balls he’s fighting for now, it’s his life. And it isn’t teammates and fans he’s doing it for, it’s himself, his wife, Veronika, and his young daughter, Isabella.
His speech has been badly affected, but he remains physically fit and sharp. Typically defiant and dignified, through his Fighting Spirit, Ricksen hasn’t allowed MND to get the best of him.
He continues to fight for his life against an illness which no one has ever survived, but if anything was made clear on Sunday, it was that he can keep fighting with the knowledge that he has us all in his corner.
Fernando battles on. And we’re all behind him, hoping he’s the man who can “make the impossible possible”.
Read our interview with Fernando Ricksen: Fighting Spirit – Fernando Ricksen locked in battle of a different kind