Celtic fan-favourite Bobby Petta has stated that Fernando Ricksen told him he had been “overcome” by the Glasgow derby demolition back in 2000.
The late former Rangers captain sadly passed away after a long, battling fight with motor neurone disease yesterday morning. Ricksen would also become close friends with Petta after the 6-2 win 19 years ago.
Ricksen found himself subbed after 22 minutes after a torrid start. It was only his first ever Glasgow derby, and he struggled against his countryman Petta.
And, speaking in the Scottish Sun, Petta touched on what Ricksen told him post-match as well as providing his own tribute to the former Ibrox hero.
“Fernando later admitted he was overcome by the occasion in the 6-2 match. But a year later he won Player of the Year which shows you how strong a character he was. He was such a grafter and great player.
“Fernando was a huge character and his own person. He was crazy and just did it his way. I last saw him a couple of months ago. I went up to visit him unannounced and left a jokey message to say that his nemesis was here.
“When I walked into his room and saw him I just started to cry. But after five or ten minutes he had me laughing. His personality was still there of course. We were joking about social media and how if it had been around in our day we would have gotten ourselves into a lot of trouble.
“He said to me, ‘We had a good time Bobby. I’m glad you came to see me’. I’ll never forget those words. He will be greatly missed.”
Ricksen bounced back from Petta haunting in style
It’s one of the most iconic matches in Celtic’s long history. And, secondary to the scoreline itself, it was mostly remembered for that famous Petta vs Ricksen battle.
Ricksen did struggle against Celtic on several other occasions. He was actually sent off in his next visit to Parkhead in yet another defeat. But his consistency over his six-year spell at Ibrox made him a hero over there.
He also even managed to leave his mark at Parkhead. One of the more sour goals for Hoops fans to take was his header back in 2005 that stopped a rendition of “YNWA” by our own supporters. But he was never one for cheap shots.
He went on to captain Rangers to the title back in 2005, and that shows the strength of character he had. Just imagine the pressure the man was under after what Petta had done to him.
And the friendship between Petta and Ricksen is a lesson to us all. Even within this heated rivalry, there should always be room for civility.
Banter is where the line should always be drawn in football. The tragic deaths of both Billy McNeill and Stevie Chalmers over the last 12 months hit Celtic hard. But you always saw Rangers scarves laid down at Parkhead as a sign of respect. The same was done at Ibrox last night, as plenty of Celtic memorabilia was seen across the Ibrox gates.
We’ll all move on and continue the rivalry as normal. But these tragic passings are a reminder of how close many supporters can be with each other, regardless of allegiance.