Disability news

Rob Burrow: A tribute to an incredible sporting legend

Rob Burrows waving a flag over his head

Former rugby league player Rob Burrow has passed away at the age of 41 following a short illness.

The sports star was recently known for raising awareness of motor neurone disease, after being diagnosed with the condition in 2019.

Before contracting MND he was a legend on the pitch playing for Leeds, as well as being capped by England and Great Britain.

Following Burrow’s death, Leeds released a statement saying: “It is with deep sadness that the club can confirm that former player Rob Burrow CBE has passed away, aged 41. Rob inspired the entire country with his brave battle against motor ­neurone disease since his diagnosis.

“He passed away peacefully at Pinderfields Hospital near his home surrounded by his loving family after becoming ill earlier this week. On behalf of the Burrow family, we would like to thank the staff for their compassion and caring for Rob in his final days.”

In a separate statement, his family said: “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 the 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 own 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.”

After being diagnosed with his illness Burrow and his close friend Kevin Sinfield raised national awareness around MND with added support from the family, including the launch of the Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon in 2023.

The event raised thousands of pounds which went towards building the Rob Burrow Centre for MND in Leeds.

Today, 3rd June, the facility is set to have its breaking of the ground; the event is still going ahead in memory of Burrow - his former club said it was what he would have wanted.

Burrows took Leeds to victory in 2004 when they eventually won the Super League Grand Final after a 32-year wait.

He went on to win eight Super League titles as well as helping Leeds win the treble in 2015 and 2017.

Amongst his long list of achievements Burrow was capped five times by Great Britain, 15 times by England, won three World Club Challenges and took home the Challenge Cup in 2014.

Headingley Stadium opened its doors last night when his death was announced so the public could pay their respects.

Former teammate and MND supporter, Barrie McDermott, said on X: “The world will never forget Rob Burrow. He is a hero to so many people and an inspiration to all who were lucky enough to meet him or came across his story on and off the pitch.

“He was brave beyond words in those last few months, he has taught me so much about courage, kindness and love. Good night God bless my little brother. I feel blessed to call you my friend.”

The Motor Neurone Disease Association,  for whom Burrow was a patron, said: “It is testament to the strength of feeling people have for Rob that the support in his name has never wavered.

“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.”

[ Rob Burrow’s autobiography Too Many Reasons to Live was published in 2021, and won the Autobiography of the Year at the 2022 Sports Book Awards. ]

Related Articles

Help support us continuing our groundbreaking work. Make a donation to help with our running costs, and support us with continuing to bring you all the latest news, reviews and accessibility reports. Become a supporter or sponsor of Able2UK today!

Able2UK Logo