Prince William and Kevin Sinfield lead tributes to 'wonderful friend' Rob Burrow

Friends and fans have paid tribute to Rob Burrow, sharing words of adoration and laying flowers at the Leeds Rhinos ground

Prince William and former rugby league player Kevin Sinfield have led tributes to former England international Rob Burrow, who died at the age of 41.

He was diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND) in 2019.

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

Former Leeds Rhinos teammate Jamie Peacock hopes to remember the "Rob standing naked in the dressing room" with a "great sense of humour" - Peacock, who played alongside Burrow for 11 years, said he was "everything you could want in a friend"

The Prince of Wales described Burrow as a “legend of Rugby League” who had a “huge heart”, adding: “He taught us, ‘in a world full of adversity, we must dare to dream’.”

Mr Sinfield paid tribute to his "wonderful friend", and said in a statement that it was "the day I hoped would never come" and described him as a "beacon of hope and inspiration".

Mr Sinfield played for Leeds Rhinos alongside Burrow, and the pair went on to raise millions of pounds for motor neurone disease.

He continued: "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."

Signing off his message, Mr Sinfield wrote: "I will miss you my little mate."

Kevin Sinfield ran the Rob Burrow marathon in Leeds while pushing him in a wheelchair. Credit: PA

Rugby league coach and former Leeds Rhinos player Jamie Jones-Buchanan said Burrow had "smashed" expectations after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease.

"Every moment was spent doing the right thing, shining a light on the people that needed it the most, and he transcended not just the sport but the nation," he said.

"He never said, 'Why me?', he never complained, he never moaned, very stoic," Jones-Buchanan added, "He fought every minute, he was so brave."

He also said Burrow was an "unassuming lad with a superhero origin story."

"He was world-class, so quick, powerful, strong, elusive, brave, courageous on so many occasions on the rugby league field. And inspired so many people, they loved him."

Fans left flowers outside Headingley stadium on Monday in tribute to Rob Burrow. One of the fans, Ian Harvey, said he was "gutted" when he heard the news about Burrow's death.

"I just thought it was massively important to come down today," he said.

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

They said their former scrum-half "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."

It continued to say the "outpouring of love and support" that Rob and his family received "meant so much" to him.

Rob Burrow who has died at the age of 41, his former club Leeds Rhinos have announced. Credit: PA

The statement described how "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."

Leeds City Council Chief Executive Tom Riordan also left flowers outside Headingley stadium on Monday. He said Rob Burrow "really epitomised" the city, "the spirit that he showed, the compassion, the kindness and his will to win".

"The combination of the humanity he had, not just in Rob but in his family as well... They're all just such genuine, lovely people," he said.

Burrow is survived by his wife Lindsey and their three children - Macy, Maya and Jackson.

Rob Burrow and his wife Lindsey arriving at Windsor Castle to receive his MBE in 2022. Credit: PA
Burrow pushed by his daughters, Maya (left), and Macy (right), during the start of the Arena Group Leeds Mini and Junior Run 2023 in Leeds. Credit: PA

Separately, the MND Association - for which Burrow was a patron of - said it will be "forever grateful" for his "vital role in raising awareness and money to support our work".

In 2001, Burrow began what would be a 16-year professional career, mostly spent with Leeds Rhinos in rugby league's Super League. He went on to make 400 appearances.

He retired in 2017 but two years later it was revealed Burrow had been diagnosed with MND and, after he raised millions to help build a new care centre for MND patients alongside Sinfield.

Both Rob Burrow and Kevin Sinfield were awarded CBEs in January this year, in recognition of their "phenomenal" efforts in raising funds for MND.

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