A Scottish artist painted on a canvas as a moving tribute to Ranger icon Fernando Ricksen – and to the memory of a close friend who was killed by the same terrible disease.
Eric McGirr has produced the artwork which will be donated to Ricken’s widow, Veronika, while prints will be sold to raise funds in the ongoing battle against motor neuron disease (MND).
The footballer died aged 43 in 2019 after a heart-wrenching fight with MND, joining a growing list of former footballers who have been affected.
Rangers fan Eric, Creative Director at Pink Gorilla Art, was also inspired by the tragic death of Celtic support pal Tam Agnew who lost a 20-year fight to MND last year.
Eric, 49, from Uddingston, told the Record he had enjoyed painting the ups and downs of Scottish football for many years.
He said: “Many years ago I loved producing paintings of football-related players and stadiums, and quite often I have donated framed prints to charity auctions, which has happened. proved to be a success.
“However, I hadn’t done much painting in recent years due to professional commitments and having a family.
“Last year, after meeting an old friend, Derek McNee, we discussed his business, possible new artwork, and how we might collaborate to showcase my work.
“From there he suggested a painting by Fernando Ricksen, and from that we saw an opportunity to raise money for charity.
“MND Scotland was the charity we chose because of Fernando’s inspirational fight against disease.”
Eric’s painting features the Ranger icon outside Ibrox’s gates and surrounded by teammates.
It’s titled ‘Orange and Blue’ and costs between £ 49.99 and £ 79.99.
MND affects people of all ages, but is more common in those over 60.
The neurological disease dramatically reduces life expectancy and a number of former footballers have been diagnosed.
There is speculation that directing heavy bullets could have damaged the brain.
“However, we also had a mutual friend in Livingston called Tam Agnew, who fought MND for almost 20 years, before losing that fight last year.
“Tam was a huge Celtic fan, and even with us Rangers it showed that disease and illness don’t discriminate and can hopefully bring people together for good causes.
“Her family continues to raise awareness and fundraise for MND research, and we hope to play our part with this painting as well.
“My mate Tam… was definitely someone who inspired me on my regular visits to see him. Yes, he fought a courageous battle for almost two decades, with the support of a strong family who organized many charity nights.
“My work has not been exhibited much over the years, which has meant that it has remained only a hobby.
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“I hope that with my friend Derek’s enthusiasm and marketing skills, I can also use my art to raise funds for various charities.
“We had been in contact with Vincent De Vries, Fernando Ricksen’s friend, as well as with his wife Veronika, to whom we hope to offer the original painting.”
Derek McNee, Managing Director, said: “I would like to say that we are delighted to be working with Eric and have been absolutely blown away by the talent he has and that we also look forward to working together to move forward. and bring more of his work to the public while raising more money for many charities.
“We will donate 20% of all gross sales to MND Scotland.
“We contacted Fernando Veronika’s wife to offer the original painting as a gift and she graciously accepted.”
To order the painting, visit: www.pinkgorillawallart.com/product/fernando-ricksen-orange-blue-by-eric-mcgirr/