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Prince William and Sinfield lead tributes to Rob Burrow

The Prince of Wales 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.

William described Burrow as a "legend of rugby league" who had a "huge heart", while best friend Sinfield described his former team-mate as a "beacon of hope and inspiration".

Tributes to Rob Burrow left at Headingley Stadium
Tributes to Rob Burrow left at Headingley Stadium [BBC]

"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, 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.

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 MND and their families "thanks to Rob's dedication and support".

Ms Wakeman said the centre would be a place people would "look to and know it was part of Rob Burrow's life, that he wanted the centre"

She added: "Today the plan is to put a spade in the ground, to start building the centre.

"We still have £1m to raise, but we are confident that the community will continue to get behind this.

"This is something which will stand there for many years supporting patients and their families and that's what Rob wanted."

Paul Watkins, director of fundraising at Leeds Hospitals Charity, said work would still 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 its target.

'Enourmous legacy'

Meanwhile, Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council's deputy leader and executive member for economy, culture and education, said: "We've lost am incredible guy, someone who faced his illness with such determination and bravery.

"I've been thinking about the incredible things that Rob did with his life: how he took something so awful and went out with positivity and created so much goodness for the city."

Speaking about work beginning on the new centre Mr Pryor said: "Today they're breaking ground on the Rob Burrow MND centre - what a day to be starting that.

"Rob led the efforts along with Kevin Sinfield and the others to raise £5.8m for the centre, something that would not exist without Rob pushing that.

"And you can just see the legacy that Rob leaves Rugby League and the whole city of Leeds is enormous."

Tributes
Tributes started to be laid at Headingley Stadium on Sunday evening [BBC]

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."

The MND Association, of which Burrow had been a patron since 2021, said it was "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," the 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."

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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