Former Rangers player Fernando Ricksen has died at the age of 43 following a battle with motor neurone disease, the club have announced.

Ricksen, who spent six years at Rangers until 2006, announced he was suffering from the disease in October 2013.

"Rangers is deeply saddened to announce that former player Fernando Ricksen passed away this morning following his battle with motor neurone disease," the Scottish club said on their official website.

"Fernando spent six trophy-laden seasons at Ibrox having initially joined a number of other Dutch players under manager Dick Advocaat in the summer of 2000." 

Ricksen, who won 12 caps for Holland and was signed by Rangers from AZ Alkmaar for £3.75million in 2000, raised awareness and funds to help other suffers of motor neurone through the Fernando Ricksen Foundation.

A benefit match for the Dutchman, held at Ibrox in January 2015, saw over 41,000 fans attend Ibrox and raised £320,000 with the proceeds split between Fernando, his daughter Isabella, MND Scotland and the Rangers Charity Foundation.

Rangers added: "The thoughts of everyone at Rangers is today with his wife Veronika, his daughter Isabella and all his family and friends." 

Ricksen, who started his career at Fortuna Sittard, was brought to Rangers by Dutch manager Dick Advocaat and became a regular under Alex McLeish when he took over as boss in December 2001.

Ricksen, a midfielder who could also play at right-back, went on to win the Scottish league and cup double in 2002, the treble in 2003 and the league and League Cup in 2005.

He left Rangers to join Zenit St Petersburg, initially on loan, in 2006 and signed for the Russian club permanently in 2007 before returning to Holland to finish his playing career with Fortuna. 

Peter Lovenkrands, who also joined Rangers in 2000 and spent six years with the Scottish club, paid tribute to his former team-mate on social media.

The 39-year-old posted on Instagram: "You looked after me when we signed at Rangers together, taking me back and forward to training because I didn't have a car, great memories on and off the pitch!

"A true warrior and leader on the pitch! You'll be truly missed. RIP my friend." 

Fortuna, currently second bottom in Eredivisie, paid tribute to their former player on Twitter.

"Today we received the sad news that Fernando Ricksen died at the age of 43," the club said. "We wish all surviving relatives strength in this difficult time. Warrior, rest in peace!"

Zenit, second in the Russian top flight, said on Twitter: "We're deeply saddened to hear of the passing of our former player Fernando Ricksen.

"He battled bravely against motor neurone disease right until the end and we are all thinking of him and his family at this difficult time." 

Another former team-mate, Nacho Novo, also took to social media to express his sorrow, posting: "Sad news my friend my best friend a role model always a fighter love u to bits mate rip I will see u soon brother."

Figures from across the world of football sent their condolences, including former Celtic striker John Hartson, who tweeted: "Sorry to hear Fernando Ricksen has passed away.. fought till the end.. my thoughts are with his immediate family and friends.. RIP Fernando."

World governing body FIFA posted on Twitter: "Our thoughts are with the friends and family of Fernando Ricksen, who has passed away aged 43 following a battle with motor neurone disease."

Ricksen's second club AZ Alkmaar also sent his family their best wishes in a message on Twitter.

Ricksen, who was was inducted into Rangers' Hall of Fame in 2014, was an unused substitute for Zenit when they won the 2008 UEFA Cup final against the Glasgow side.