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Rob Burrow: Former Leeds Rhinos teammate Kevin Sinfield pays tribute to ‘wonderful friend’ | UK News

A former teammate of Rob Burrow has paid tribute to a “wonderful friend” after the rugby league legend died more than four years after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease.

Kevin Sinfield played for Leeds Rhinos alongside Burrow and the pair went on to raise millions of pounds for charity after the former scrum-half was diagnosed with the condition in 2019.

An image of Sinfield carrying his former teammate over the finish line of the Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon in May 2023 is one that will live long in the memory.

In January, the Prince of Wales awarded Burrow and Sinfield with CBEs in recognition of their “phenomenal” efforts in raising funds for motor neurone disease (MND).

Sinfield was also joined by Prince William in paying tribute to the rugby player-turned-campaigner who died on Sunday aged 41.

In a statement posted on X by Leeds Rhinos, Sinfield said: “Today was the day that I hoped would never come.

“The world has lost a great man and a wonderful friend to so so many.

“You fought so bravely until the end and became a beacon of hope and inspiration, not only for the MND community but for all those who saw and heard your story.”

Rob Burrow
Rob Burrow

He continued in his tribute to Burrow: “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.

“I will miss you my little mate.”

In a personally signed message on X, the Prince of Wales said: “A legend of Rugby League, Rob Burrow had a huge heart. He taught us, in a world full of adversity, we must dare to dream.”

Leeds Rhinos had earlier said in a statement that Burrow “passed away peacefully” at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield, near his home, surrounded by his family, after becoming ill earlier this week

Burrow leaves behind his wife Lindsey and their three young children Macy, Maya and Jackson.

The Prince of Wales (right) meets Rob Burrow, his wife Lindsey Burrow and their children Maya (left), Macy and Jackson during a visit to Headingley Stadium, Leeds, to congratulate him on his efforts to raise awareness of Motor Neurone Disease. Picture date: Thursday January 11, 2024.
The Prince of Wales (right) meets Rob Burrow, his wife Lindsey Burrow and their children Maya (left), Macy and Jackson in Leeds in January. Pic: Reuters

Following his diagnosis, Burrow spearheaded a £6.8m appeal for Leeds Hospitals Charity, where he received care, for a state-of-the-art centre for people living with MND.

The rare, degenerative brain and nerve condition eventually took Burrow’s voice and confined him to a wheelchair.

The Leeds Hospital Charity has said the former rugby player was “an inspiration, not only to the people of Yorkshire, but the entire nation, and across the world”, adding that he spread joy with his “infectious smile and unwavering sense of humour”.

Read more:
Sinfield and Burrow’s lessons in friendship
Burrow completes Father’s Day fun run
infield announces new ultramarathon challenge

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Prince William surprises Rob Burrow with CBE

Meanwhile, Sinfield has completed several challenges to fundraise for MND organisations.

This includes raising £1.5m after completing seven ultramarathons in seven days, starting from Edinburgh and ending at Manchester’s Old Trafford stadium, reaching the finish line during the Rugby League World Cup final.

Leeds Rhinos said work on Monday to begin building the new Rob Burrow Centre for Motor Neurone Disease will “go ahead as planned at Rob’s request”, adding it was a tribute to his “incredible work”.

The chief executive of the MND Association said Burrow, who was a patron of the charity, was “brilliant for the motor neurone disease community” and that he lived with the condition with “dignity, kindness and tenacity”.

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From November – Rob Burrow: ‘Kev is still my captain’

The MND Association said Burrow was a “passionate advocate” for people with the “brutal” disease.

Tanya Curry, who has led the charity since January 2023, said: “We are so grateful for everything that Rob and his family did.

“He allowed his diagnosis to come into people’s homes so he could show the impact of this devastating and cruel disease that he lived with since the end of 2019 with such dignity, kindness and tenacity.

“Whenever you met Rob, you couldn’t help but smile and have a great conversation with him and he will be missed by so many.”

Kevin Sinfield and Rob Burrow. Pic: AP
Kevin Sinfield, left and Rob Burrow during their playing days. Pic: AP

Burrow spent his entire rugby league career with Leeds Rhinos and helped them win eight Super League titles, and represented Great Britain.

Emotional well-wishers turned up at the club’s Headingley Stadium on Sunday to pay their respects, leaving flowers, shirts and other tributes.

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