Rob Burrow's emotional plea to wife Lindsey before his passing

Rob Burrow and his wife Lindsey Burrow
-Credit: (Image: PA)


When Rob Burrow and his wife Lindsey first met as teenagers, they dreamed of growing old together.

However, their shared journey was heartbreakingly cut short, with Leeds Rhinos announcing on Sunday that Burrow had died at the age of 41 after a battle with motor neurone disease (MND). Diagnosed with MND in late 2019, two years post-retirement from rugby league, Burrow dedicated his remaining time to raising awareness and funds for research into the relentless condition.

His wife Lindsey, an NHS physiotherapist, stood by him as his primary caregiver throughout his struggle. Rob, who defied medical expectations by living with MND for five years, once confessed he couldn't have continued without her support", reports the Mirror.

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Rob, who surpassed doctors' expectations and lived with the disease for five years, previously admitted that he couldn't have carried on without her, and in a BBC documentary, Lindsey revealed that her husband had one request for her upon his eventual death. He had begged her to 'find someone else' following his passing, but the full-time carer, whom he met at 15, refused to.

During the documentary, Lindsey explained: "He always says, find someone else. You're young. But there won't be anybody else. No one will take Rob's place.

Overcome with emotion, she added: "I like to plan. But it's really difficult because Rob doesn't like to talk about the future."

"It's really difficult because you don't want to upset him but I want to know what Rob wants and his wishes so we have had to have those difficult conversations. And I know what Rob wants but I try not to think about the end because I can't imagine a world without Rob."

Rob and Lindsey met when they were both 15 and went on to support each other through life's milestones. Lindsey used to dance with his older sister, and Rob got her number through their mutual friends.

The mum-of-three explained: "There was never going to be anyone else I was going to marry.

"I knew it from the start. He treated me like a princess. It was love at first sight. It can be a cliche but it was true for me."

Rob added: "She was my childhood sweetheart. I love her more each day."

When Rob was first told he had MND in December 2019, aged 37, his initial instinct was to see if wife Lindsey was OK. "MND is not the worst thing in the world - your kids getting poorly is the worst thing. I'm not trying to portray myself as a hero, because any man would gladly take any pain from their wife and kids and give it to himself," he said in 2020 when his documentary, Rob Burrow: My Year With MND, aired on BBC.

"I couldn't begin to imagine what was going through his head, but it was him telling me to pull myself together, not the other way around," Lindsey wrote in the Mail following Rob's diagnosis.

"Rob made me understand that we had a stark choice: either we could waste what time he had left by dwelling on all the things he'd miss out on when he was gone, or we could make as many happy memories as possible."

The next challenge they encountered was breaking the news of their dad's illness to the children, but Rob remembered what could have been a distressing talk with a touch of humour. "Me and Lindsey always said we'd be honest to make sure our kids trust us. So we told them the next day," he shared with the Mirror.

"We sat them down and said, 'We've got something to tell you. Daddy's not very well, but he's got a lot of really good people looking after him'. And Maya said, 'Why are you telling us this? It's boring! '. So we all started laughing - it was the best thing ever."

Rob admitted struggling to come to terms with his prognosis, yet an encounter with Scottish rugby union legend Doddie Weir, who has been battling MND for more than five years, gave him a fresh outlook to face life's challenges with humour.

"Meeting Doddie changed everything. I saw how happy and jokey he was, how he took the mick out of everyone around him. And I thought, 'I want to be my own version of that'," Rob recounted. "So when I came home, me and my wife Lindsey decided we'd have a no-cry policy at home. Because when I see Lindsey upset, I get upset. And neither of us want the kids to be upset."

The couple pledged their unwavering love to each other nearly two decades ago, and Lindsey has truly honoured that promise in recent years. Rob had expressed his deep gratitude, saying: "I could not ask for a better help than my beautiful wife Lindsey. I know when you get married you say that you will be there in sickness and in health. I did not think she signed up to look after me so soon. She is my very own superhero and I could not be alive without her help with everything. I love her so much."

Following his MBE recognition, Rob penned a book and opened his doors to documentary filmmakers, earning a nod for a National Television Award. He also completed the Leeds Marathon, with his mate Kevin assisting him across the finish line.

"People now know what MND is," Lindsey remarked. "This is so people no longer have to explain. And it is about giving hope to families who have little. You are given bleak statistics, we want to bring change, more funding and research."

Rob's 'no tears policy' exemplified the couple's efforts to maintain normalcy for their children. He had shared: "I am amazed by Lindsey every day. It can be a very dark and lonely place at times but Lindsey always makes me feel like we are carrying on in the most normal way we can possibly manage. She is stronger than any rugby hero I have ever played alongside and I'm so lucky to have her."