NEIL LENNON admitted he was “very upset” when he heard about the death of his one-time Ibrox foe Fernando Ricksen yesterday.

The former Holland international midfielder passed away after a courageous six-year fight against Motor Neurone Disease at the age of 43.

Lennon squared up to Ricksen, who was at Ibrox between 2000 and 2006, in many derby confrontations and paid a heartfelt tribute follow the death of the former opponent.

The Celtic manager, speaking to the Daily Record, said: “It’s tragic. I am very, very upset for his family, obviously.

“He was someone I played against in many battles in a time when both teams were very, very strong in Glasgow, in a very good era in Scottish football.

“And 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 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 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 enjoyed some ferocious encounters with Celtic, but had a debut against Martin O’Neill’s team in August 2000 at Parkhead. His fellow-Dutchman Bobby Petta was unstoppable as he raced up and down the left wing and Dick Advocat had to make a change early in the proceedings.

Chris Sutton, Stiliyan Petrov and Paul Lambert all had efforts tucked behind Stefan Klos in a whirlwind opening stage and Ricksen was taken off before half-time.

It didn’t prevent the Hoops from clocking up a 6-2 victory with Henrik Larsson (2) and Sutton again getting on the scoresheet for a rampaging victory in the east end of Glasgow.

* DON’T miss the unbeatable match report from Rennes v Celtic this evening – only in your champion CQN.

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