Rob Burrow's heroic final wish revealed as Prince William pays tribute to rugby league star

Prince William meeting Rob Burrow
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images)

The wife of a former rugby star has shared his touching final wish before he died aged just 41. Rob Burrow had raised millions for motor neurone disease (MND) charities after being diagnosed with the condition.

And he told his wife, Lindsay, that he wanted a new therapy centre for patients as one of his final acts. The dad tragically died on Sunday, Jun 2. The sad news was shared by his former rugby club, Leeds Rhinos.

He had been diagnosed with MND in 2019. His struggle captivated and inspired the entire nation, leading him and friend and former team-mate Kevin Sinfield to raise nearly £15 million for charities linked to MND.

READ MORE: I use Birmingham Airport every week and while security can be slow there is a bigger issue

For stories from across Solihull including BHX, breaking news, politics and what's on, sign up to our MySolihull newsletter

His memory is set to live on through the upcoming Rob Burrow Centre for Motor Neurone Disease being built in Seacroft Hospital, Leeds, WalesOnline reports. In a BBC Breakfast interview, one of Rob's friends, Phil Daly, said: "We mentioned the ground-breaking, we will have the ground-breaking today, that was Rob's wishes.

"We spoke to Lindsey on Friday and that's what he said. We can't waste a day and Rob wouldn't want us to waste a day, we start today. It's no reflection of the NHS staff who looked after Rob they did a great job but the facilities just aren't up to scratch.

Rob Burrow
Rob Burrow -Credit:George Wood/Getty Images

"When you're given that diagnosis in the facilities that are there now, it makes the whole situation so much worse." A statement released on behalf of his wife and children said: "Rob never accepted that he couldn't do something. He just found his 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.

"This centre will be somewhere where people can get their diagnosis and actually find out the next steps. Rob was at the heart of planning for it there will be family areas there to help children understand in an environment that is comforting."

The Prince of Wales also paid tribute to Rob. He said: Today was the day that I hoped would never come. The world has lost a great man and a wonderful friend to so many. You fought so bravely until the end and became a beacon of hope and inspiration, not only for the MND community but for all those who saw and heard your story," Sinfield said in an emotional statement.

"You were the toughest and bravest man I have ever met. The last four 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."

Professor Phil Wood, chief executive of Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, added: "His commitment to getting this over the line. And of course we should acknowledge the work of Kevin Sinfield, in particular, the seven in seven team, his astonishing fundraising helped our partner charity get to this point and realise this vision.

Rob Burrow pictured during a Leeds Rhinos match in 2013
Rob Burrow pictured during a Leeds Rhinos match in 2013 -Credit:Alex Livesey/Getty Images

"The determination of Rob and Lindsey, who has been absolutely by his side, and is one of our staff members who has continued to look after her own patients throughout during all of this, which I think is absolutely inspiring. It's a great day for patients and families, not just for Leeds but the wider region. We are very proud of our role in treating this devastating disease."

Rob's former teammate at Leeds, Jamie Jones-Buchacan, said: "Rob stood out he was brave, he was courageous, he spoke in a world that lacks a lot of courage, a lot of people with anxiety, I think that physical ability was his superpower, and it's what shone.

"That was robbed from him, living with MND, but the courage never waned at all, if anything it shone even brighter. The love and impression he's left on everybody to get up and speak, fight for what's important, for the MND community. And to do it with his team-mates, not least Kev, has transcended, not just rugby league and sport but the nation. The legacy that he'll leave is the people that he's impressed so many important things upon.

"This journey from December 15, 2019, when I first heard about it, until June 2, 2024 those two dates and what happened in between will never leave him. It charges me every single day not just me, all of us who wear that blue and amber badge to transcend the nation and the rugby league community continues to come together to remember Rob, what he's done and why he's done it and what we need to keep doing to make sure it's a legacy that Rob's left and a life fulfilled."