Athletes at the peak of their powers may seem to have it all - physical perfection, immeasurable wealth and the adoration of a devoted public - but the truth is that, like everyone else, they are vulnerable to the capriciousness of life and its capacity for delivering cruel, wounding blows when least expected.
Ricksen revealed to a Dutch television show this week that he has been diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, a neurological disorder that can affect the arms, legs and facial muscles, and impact on speech, walking, breathing and swallowing. It is hard to marry that brutal diagnosis with the memories of Ricksen from his seven years in Glasgow, a player who was a perpetual blur of motion both on the field and off it.
The Dutchman's state of near-permanent hyperactivity occasionally led him into bother with both the Scottish Football Association and Strathclyde Police but it was an integral part of his make-up. Nobody escapes the wearying effect of the ageing process but it still seems almost impossible now to envisage Ricksen being forced to operate at a much slower pace as this horrific, debilitating illness starts to take hold.
"I know Fernando's character and he did everything at 100 miles per hour - training, eating, everything," said Lorenzo Amoruso, his former Rangers team-mate. "Sometimes he couldn't hold even his words and they came tumbling out of his mouth."
There is no cure or standard treatment for motor neurone diseases but Ricksen, 37 years old, recently remarried and with a young daughter, will not be short of sympathisers and well-wishers hoping he can somehow beat the odds. As was the case with Jimmy Johnstone, when the former Celtic player was diagnosed with a similar disorder, support for Ricksen has come from all corners, the gravity of the situation prompting many to put aside relatively insignificant football grievances to offer kind words.
"I believe everyone who knew Fernando at Rangers will be there for him," added Amoruso, back in Glasgow for Rangers' William Hill Scottish Cup tie against Airdrieonians this evening. "The ex-players often meet up for charity matches and other events so we are still in touch. If Fernando needs anything then I am sure we will all be there to help him.
"When you have been a Ranger, you will always be a Ranger. The team I was part of was a unit on the pitch and off it. When we left the club, we knew that the family of Rangers would always be there for us. Everyone will be right behind him to try and give him support and help his morale. It doesn't matter if you have been a top-class player or a youth player. If you have been a good man then the fans will support you."
Yesterday morning Amoruso was still trying to come to terms with the plight of a man he had shared a dressing room with for three years. The Italian admitted to being in the dark with regards to the medical options open to Ricksen but knew his former team-mate would battle with all his might. "Knowing him like I do, it is so strange and sad to know that he is facing this disease. It is not easy or nice to think like that about a guy who was sitting beside me in a dressing room just a few years ago - fighting for victories and for trophies.
"I don't know much about this disease but I know that it is not a nice thing at all for your body. I just hope that the treatment and science now can help Fernando. He was the type on the pitch who would always face up to problems and overcome them. Fernando never gave up as a player. He faced a bad period when he first came to the club and trying to adapt. But the great player, the great man, can face up to these problems and come through the other side. Fernando was always that way."
There was a moment of levity yesterday amid the sombre reflection when Amoruso looked back on happier times. It was difficult to keep the smile off his face as the memories of Ricksen's ebullient personality came flooding back. "In my head he is a simple guy who used the be the same way on the pitch and outside the pitch," he added. "Sometimes we had to control him, especially if you get a bit drunk, but that's the best part of Fernando.
"When I met him in pre-season I could tell physically he could run for days. I came late for pre-season because I had a shoulder problem and was receiving treatment in Italy. When I came to Scotland and joined the team for the end of pre-season Fernando came to me and said: 'Lorenzo, I was waiting or you.' I said: 'I don't even know you.'
"But it was great and he said, 'Lorenzo, with you at the back we're going to be even stronger' and I said thanks. But that's Fernando. He never stops trying to make the team all together and create a good spirit. That's why I'm positive about him."