FERNANDO Ricksen’s wife last night revealed she “loves him more than ever” – as she spoke of her pride at how he’s fought his health battle.
Veronika Ricksen, 31, had been dating the former Gers star, 40, for six years when he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2013.
But she said helping look after the stricken footie ace hasn’t had a negative impact on their relationship – despite her now giving him almost 24 hour care.
Veronika, giving her first in depth UK interview in three years, told The Scottish Sun: “It has been very hard seeing how his health has deteriorated but I am really proud at how he is handling fighting MND.
“Many others would have given up in this situation but Fernando hasn’t and never will.
“He still has the same sense of humour and he is the still character I fell in love with when I met him.
“We still have a happy marriage. I love him more then ever because I am so proud of him.”
He also spoke of how reliant he is on Veronika – who he met in 2007 in her native Russia – and how he can’t bring himself to tell their daughter Isabella, four, how unwell he is.
And his wife revealed she now has to care for Fernando all day at their home in Valencia, Spain – apart from when dropping off Isabella at school.
He said: “I can’t leave him alone. When I am bringing Isaballa to school, then Fernando is alone.
“But that is fine for him – it’s not a problem. However, the rest of the time I must be with Fernando. I must support him.”
Veronika – who married Fernando in 2014 – admits there have been tough times for their family dealing with the illness.
But she insists they try and live as normal a life as possible, despite her hubby’s health woes.
She said: “Of course it is hard, but you must make time to do nice things.
“You need to act like motor neurone disease isn’t there. You shouldn’t just sit around and home and do nothing.
“Of course sometimes you don’t have a choice, but we try to live a normal life like any other couple.
“We go to the beach, have dinner in nice restaurants and spend time with friends.”
Dying Rangers legend Fernando yesterday said he is inspired by genius scientist Hawking, 75, who was given just five years to live when diagnosed in 1963.
The defiant star said: “I want to be the first who will beat MND. I still think and hope that.
“I know most people with MND die within three to five years, but look at Stephen Hawking. He is still here — let me be the new Hawking.”