Rob Burrow: Prince William and Kevin Sinfield lead tributes to Leeds Rhinos legend

Zac Goodwin / PA Wire

Rob Burrow was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2019

Prince William and Kevin Sinfield are among those to have paid tribute to rugby league legend Rob Burrow following his death aged 41.

Burrow’s former club Leeds Rhinos announced his death on Sunday, describing him as “a true inspiration throughout his life”.

He had lived with motor neurone disease (MND) for nearly five years after being diagnosed in late 2019.

The Prince of Wales described Burrow as a “legend of rugby league” who had a “huge heart”, while best friend Mr Sinfield described his former team-mate as a “beacon of hope and inspiration”.

Tributes to Rob Burrow left at Headingley Stadium

“Today was the day I hoped would never come”, he said in a tribute posted on social media.

“You will continue to inspire me every day.”

Sinfield continued: “I would always say that you were pound for pound the toughest player I ever played alongside, however since your diagnosis, you were the toughest and bravest man I have ever met.

“The last 4 and a half years you showed the world what living and loving looked like and this was always done with the biggest smile on your face.

“I will miss you my little mate.”

In a personally signed message on X, Prince William wrote: “(Burrow) taught us, ‘in a world full of adversity, we must dare to dream.’

“Catherine and I send our love to Lindsey, Jackson, Maya and Macy.”

Burrow is survived by his wife Lindsey and their three children.

Phil Noble / PA Wire

In January Burrow gave Prince William a tour of Headingley and was awarded CBE for his work raising awareness of MND

The chief executive of Leeds Hospitals Charity Esther Wakeman said: “We are heartbroken to hear that our Patron, Rob Burrow, has sadly died.

“Rob was an inspiration, not only to the people of Yorkshire, but the entire nation, and across the world.”

Leeds Hospitals Charity said Burrow “bravely shared his personal story with us all” and “showed us how to live life to the fullest in the face of adversity”.

It added that £5.8m had been raised to build a specialist centre for people living with motor neurone disease and their families “thanks to Rob’s dedication and support”.

Danny Lawson / PA Wire

Fans gathered at Headingley Stadium on Sunday to pay their respects

Paul Watkins, director of fundraising at Leeds Hospitals Charity, said work was to due begin on the centre on Monday.

“The family still want it to go ahead. That just shows how magnanimous and gracious they are.

“All along they have thought about others.”

The build is expected to take about a year and the charity remains focused on raising the last £1m of their target.

‘He was Leeds’

Tributes started to be laid at Headingley Stadium on Sunday evening

Fans gathered outside Headingley Stadium, the home of Leeds Rhinos, on Sunday to pay tribute to Burrow.

HGV driver Marc Hill, 31, said: “I’m absolutely gutted. Just devastated.

“I idolised Rob Burrow growing up and he was probably one of the main reasons I got into rugby.”

He added: “He was a true inspiration and was relentless in every way. He meant everything to Leeds. He was Leeds.”

Danny Lawson / PA Wire

Floral tributes were left in memory of Rob Burrow at his former club’s ground

The MND Association, of which Burrow had been a patron since 2021, said they were “incredibly grateful” for his support.

Following his diagnosis, Burrow and his friend and former Rhinos teammate Kevin Sinfield raised millions for MND charities.

The MND Association said Burrow was a “consistent and passionate advocate for people with MND” and “used every opportunity to raise awareness of the disease”.

“It is testament to the strength of feeling people have for Rob that the support in his name has never wavered,” their statement added.

“The MND Association is incredibly grateful to Rob and his family for helping to raise awareness of MND, and funds for the Association, by sharing the details of their journey and by inspiring so many people both within the MND community and the wider public.”

‘Truly inspirational’

Danny Lawson / PA Wire

Leeds City Council said it would “ensure Rob’s legacy and achievements live on”

Burrow and Sinfield were both given the freedom of Leeds last year – the highest civic honour a council can award – for their charity fundraising work.

In a joint statement, the Lord Mayor of Leeds City Council, Abigail Marshall Katung; council leader, James Lewis; and chief executive, Tom Riordan, said they were “deeply saddened” by Burrow’s death.

They said he was “a hero to so many both on and off the rugby field”.

“Rob’s performances for Leeds Rhinos alongside English and Great British rugby league had already secured his legendary status as one of the sport’s true greats, before he faced the toughest of battles against Motor Neurone Disease (MND) with tremendous courage, bravery and dignity.”

They added that his campaigning and fundraising efforts, which included raising millions for a specialist MND care centre at Seacroft Hospital, were “truly inspirational”.

“Over the coming weeks we will find a fitting way to ensure Rob’s legacy and achievements live on in Leeds.”

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