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10th Sep 2018

Watch: Rangers legend Fernando Ricksen uses voice machine to thank fans for support

Simon Lloyd

Fernando Ricksen has used a new voice machine to thank fans for their messages of support

Five years ago, Ricksen was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease – a condition which affects the brain and nerves – and has since lost the ability to speak as a result.

However, a post by the former Rangers player’s biographer and friend, Vincent de Vries, has revealed he is now using a special machine to communicate.

In the video below, Ricksen speaks through the machine, saying: “Hello, for the people who don’t know me I am Fernando Ricksen and I suffer from Motor Neurone Disease also known as ALS.”

“Because of this muscle disease I’m unable to speak. I have a new device that speaks for me.

“At the moment I only have a female voice so bear with me.

“First I want to thank everyone for the love and support on my birthday. Thank you for the energy.”

The 42-year-old started to use the new piece of equipment last month after it was donated to him by Dutch firm rdg Kompagne.

Using his eyes, he can select pre-programmed phrases which the machine reads aloud to his wife, Veronika, and five-year-old daughter, Isabella.

Speaking to the Scottish Sun, he explained that it was “life changing”.

“Finally I can talk and explain myself again,” he said. “I can tell them how I feel and what I mean – ask them how they are, make jokes and just be a part of the conversation again.”

“My voice is really bad and as it will only get worse or disappear I decided it was time to get help for this.

“It has made life much easier as I can tell my wife what I need without getting into an argument!”

The machine Ricksen is using to communicate is similar to that used by Stephen Hawking, who died earlier this year after suffering with MND for many years.