Prince William and Kevin Sinfield lead tributes to 'inspirational' rugby hero Rob Burrow after his death aged 41

3 June 2024, 07:24 | Updated: 3 June 2024, 07:28

Rugby League legend Rob Burrow has died aged 41 after a five-year battle with motor neurone disease (MND).
Rugby League legend Rob Burrow has died aged 41 after a five-year battle with motor neurone disease (MND). Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Prince William and Kevin Sinfield are leading tributes to 'inspirational' rugby hero Rob Burrow after his death aged 41.

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

He retired in 2017 and two years later it was revealed Burrow had been diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND).

He raised millions to help build a new care centre for MND patients alongside former team-mate Kevin Sinfield.

Read more: 'He taught us we must dare to dream': Tributes paid to rugby legend Rob Burrow after death following MND diagnosis

Read more: ‘I’m proud to help but it’s tough’: Rob Burrow’s wife opens up about heartbreaking challenges of caring for husband

File photo dated 09-10-2021 of Rob Burrow who has died at the age of 41, his former club Leeds Rhinos have announced. Issue date: Sunday June 2, 2024.
Burrow retired in 2017 and two years later it was revealed Burrow had been diagnosed with MND. Picture: Alamy

Paying tribute to him, 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 (motor neurone disease) community but for all those who saw and heard your story.

"My love and thoughts go to your beautiful family, Lindsey, Macy, Maya, and Jackson, to your lovely parents Geoff and Irene, sisters Joanne and Claire and your wider family and friends.

"You will continue to inspire me every single day.

"I have lost a dear friend and I will never forget the special times we shared both on and off the pitch.

"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 four 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. All my love, Kev X."

File photo dated 07-10-2017 of Rob Burrow who has died at the age of 41, his former club Leeds Rhinos have announced. Issue date: Sunday June 2, 2024.
Burrow spent his entire rugby league career with Leeds Rhinos and helped them win eight Super League titles. Picture: Alamy

Burrow's death was confirmed by his former club Leeds on Sunday night.

He was just 37 and had three children under the age of eight with wife Lindsey when he made the announcement on December 19, 2019 that he had MND.

A statement on Leeds Rhinos' official website read: "It is with deep sadness that we announce the death of our beloved son, husband, father, brother and friend.

"Rob has always been a true inspiration throughout his life whether that was on the rugby league field or during his battle with MND (motor neurone disease).

"He never allowed others to define what he could achieve and believed in his own ability to do more.

"The outpouring of love and support that Rob and the whole Burrow family have received over the last four-and-a-half years meant so much to Rob. In particular, the rugby league family and MND community have rallied around Rob to inspire him, thank you for your support.

"For those who knew Rob throughout his life, his determination and spirit in the face of MND over the last four-and-a-half years came as no surprise.

"Rob never accepted that he couldn't do something. He just found his way of doing it better than anyone else. He will continue to inspire us all every day. In a world full of adversity. We must dare to dream."

In a personally signed message on Twitter, Prince William wrote: "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.'

"Catherine and I send our love to Lindsey, Jackson, Maya and Macy. W".

Rob Burrow and Kevin Sinfield cross the finish line of the 2023 Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon
Rob Burrow and Kevin Sinfield cross the finish line of the 2023 Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon. Picture: Alamy

The MND Association said Burrow was a "passionate advocate" for people with the "brutal" disease, with William adding that the "legend of rugby league" had a "huge heart".

Broadcaster Dan Walker said: "He was the little fella who made a massive impact on the pitch and an even bigger one off it.

"Rob Burrow taught us so much in the way he dealt with his MND diagnosis and inspired millions with his continued determination and desire to make a difference for others.

"Sending all my love to Lindsey and their kids, his sisters, his mum and dad and all those who will miss him so much."

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