Rob Burrow dead as Prince William left devastated by rugby league icon’s passing at age 41

Prince William led tributes to Rob Burrow after the former rugby league star died on Sunday aged 41 after a long battle with motor neurone disease.

Burrow won eight Super League titles, three World Club Challenges and two Challenge Cups during an iconic career with Leeds Rhinos.

The England international retired in 2017 and two years later it was revealed he had been diagnosed with motor neurone disease.

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In a personally signed message on social media, William, Prince of Wales, hailed Burrow, saying: “He taught us, ‘in a world full of hardship, we must dare to dream.’ Catherine and I send our love to Lindsey, Jackson, Maya and Macy.”

The Prince of Wales paid tribute to Burrow’s “phenomenal” efforts to raise awareness of motor neurone disease.

Leeds revealed Burrow’s death in a statement, which said: “It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved son, husband, father, brother and friend.

“Rob has always been a true inspiration throughout his life, whether it was on the rugby league field or during his battle with MND (Motor Neurone Disease).

“He never let others define what he could achieve and believed in his own ability to do more.”

Burrow made over 400 appearances for Leeds between 2001 and 2017. Along with former co-star Kevin Sinfield, he raised more than £15 million ($19 million) to help build a new center to care for patients with motor neurone disease.

Speaking after his diagnosis, Burrow struck a defiant tone.

“The worst thing for me is people feeling sorry for me,” he said. “I know it will come, but I want to be as normal as ever.

“Even though I’m able and feel fit, strong and healthy, I want to do normal things and they shouldn’t be treated differently.”

By January 2021, Burrow had lost his arms and hands and began using a wheelchair after his legs became weak.

But he continued to raise funds for motor neurone disease charities and last May Sinfield carried him across the finish line at the inaugural Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon after pushing his big friend to 26.2 miles.

Leeds plan to recognize Burrow and Sinfield’s achievements with a statue at their Headingley stadium.

Burrow was awarded an MBE in the 2021 New Year Honors and a CBE in 2024 for services to sports charities and motor neurone disease.

“The outpouring of love and support that Rob and the entire Burrow family have received over the past four and a half years has meant so much to Rob,” added Leeds.

“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 have known Rob all his life, his determination and spirit in the fight against MND over the past four and a half years has come as no surprise.”

The man of the match award in this year’s Super League grand final will be renamed after Burrow, who was the first player to win it twice in 2007 and 2011.

As tributes poured in for one of the sport’s most decorated players, the Rugby Football League said: “Since December 2019, his courage and humanity have transcended sport.” The MND Association, of which Burrow became patron in 2021, added: “By doing so much, he inspired the support of many.

“That the support on his behalf has never wavered is a testament to the strong feeling people have for Rob.” Burrow, who is survived by wife Lindsey and children Macy, Maya and Jackson, won 15 England caps and was capped five times for Great Britain.

He scored 196 tries in his unparalleled career, but the bravery he showed in his final years, rocked by illness, will serve as Burrow’s lasting legacy.

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