As defiant in life as he was on the pitch, former Rangers star Fernando Ricksen refuses to allow his battle with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) to affect his passion for life.

Diagnosed with the degenerative and terminal illness in October 2013, doctors had given him 18 months to live, but now in 2019 he is still raising awareness, and fighting to the end.

Although now completely reliant on a speech computer for communication, Ricksen refuses to feel sorry for himself.

In a story reported in The Guardian, Ricksen said: "Feeling sorry for myself doesn't help me. I'm angry about the disease, angry that I am dependent on other people, I can't do anything alone any more. I'm frustrated."

A Rangers hero during the Dick Advocaat era, Ricksen has been wholly reliant on his wife Veronika for long term support, but with the illness taking its toll, Veronika can't offer Ricksen the round the clock medical attention that he requires.

St Andrew's Hospice in Airdrie, a registered charity, part funded by the state, will provide Ricksen with the level of attention needed, and in doing so he will spend the remainder of his life at the hospice.

Ricksen told The Guardian: "I'm not afraid of dying. But when I can't breathe because of the MND, I feel scared. When I'm choking, I'm afraid, yes."

As a footballer Fernando Ricksen was known for his battling qualities, winning seven trophies at Rangers, and four with Zenit St Petersburg, he also represented the Netherlands 12 times during his career.

Read more: Fernando Ricksen: Rangers legend and the heart of a lion.

Happy to discuss any subject, when asked about euthanasia, legal in the Netherlands, Ricksen answered honestly: "I understand why people do it but I don't have that feeling, I like living too much, I'm not ready to go."

Refusing to allow the illness to affect his sense of humour Ricksen said of whether he believes the public's perception of him has changed: "I think that they thought I was crazy (as a footballer). Now they think I'm a crazy guy with MND."