Rugby league legends Rob Burrow and Kevin Sinfield awarded freedom of Leeds

Rob Burrow and Kevin Sinfield have campaigned and fundraised for MND charities. Credit: PA

Former Leeds Rhino's legends Rob Burrow and Kevin Sinfield have been awarded the freedom of Leeds, the city's highest honour.

Since Burrow was diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND) in 2019, the pair have campaigned to raise awareness and vital funds for charities, including an appeal to build a specialist MND centre in Leeds.

Leeds City Council said it wanted to recognise "the courage, commitment and inspirational strength of character shown by local heroes."

In his latest endurance challenge, Kevin Sinfield raised more than £2.7m last month when he ran seven ultra marathons in seven days in honour of his former teammate, who played in the number seven shirt.

Burrow said he is "deeply humbled" to join the list of recipients which includes Sir Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela and members of the Leeds United side of the 1960s and 1970s.

He thanked Leeds City Council, saying: “Having spent my entire adult life as part of the Leeds Rhinos family, it meant so much to me during my career to be able to bring joy to the people of Leeds with our success on the field.

“I am deeply humbled to receive it, especially alongside Kevin, a man who continues to set the example for all of us to follow.”

Kevin Sinfield applauds the crowd following the end of his Ultra 7 in 7 Challenge in November. Credit: PA

Sinfield said he is "deeply honoured" by the award.

He added: "I have always said that whilst Oldham is my home town, Leeds is my home city and it was my privilege to represent the city as a Leeds Rhinos player during my career.

"The way the people of Leeds in particular have shown their love and support for my friend Rob Burrow and his family since his MND diagnosis says everything about what a wonderful city Leeds is."

The pair will be presented the award in a ceremony at Leeds Civic Hall on 11 January and their names will be added to the roll of honour in the building.

Councillor James Lewis, leader of Leeds City Council, said: “The way Rob has responded to his illness has been humbling to see, while Kevin’s determination to support not only his friend but all those affected by MND has been hugely inspirational. They are true Leeds heroes, and it is our privilege to be able to give their incredible story the recognition it deserves.”

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know.