'Simply the best': Rob Burrow's wife shares moving tribute to rugby player after his death

Rob Burrow's wife has paid tribute to her rugby player husband who died last week aged 41 after a battle with motor neurone disease (MND).

In a moving tribute, his wife Lindsey said the former Leeds Rhinos player was "simply the best".

It came as Burrow's final message before he died emerged: "Whatever your personal battle, be brave and face it. Every single day is precious. Don't waste a moment."

Burrow, who began fundraising and campaigning to raise awareness of MND after his diagnosis, added: "I hope one day we find a cure and we live in a world free of MND."

The message was played as part of the BBC documentary There's Only One Rob Burrow.

His wife said: "Although we knew this day would arrive, I am somehow still feeling at a loss for words that our loving, kind, caring husband and father has departed," she said in a statement.

"I was incredibly proud and fortunate to call Rob my husband.

"I am unbelievably proud of the campaigning he's done to raise awareness and the millions of pounds that have been raised in his name for MND charities.

"I would like to thank the Rugby League community and everyone for their outpouring of love and support since Rob's diagnosis. I truly appreciate every message of support, and fundraising that has been done," she added.

"My priority is to make Rob proud, and to bring our three children up as Rob would want and ensure their happiness and wellbeing.

"We will continue to keep Rob's legacy alive. We will continue to 'bang the drum' and do our best to try and help others.

"We take comfort from how much people's love and continued support meant to Rob through his most vulnerable times.

"He was simply the best."

Meanwhile, a ceremony to mark the breaking of the ground of the Rob Burrow Centre for MND at Leeds' Seacroft Hospital went ahead as planned on Monday at Burrow's request, with his family saying he "would be looking down and smiling".

Burrow's close friend and former teammate Kevin Sinfield attended the ceremony, along with Burrow's parents Geoff and Irene Burrow, and his sisters Joanne Hartshorn and Claire Burnett.

The family said Burrow would have wanted them to be there as construction work started on the state-of-the-art purpose-built care centre.

Mrs Burrow told reporters: "I said this is what Rob would want and I think he'd be proud that we all pulled ourselves together and got the strength to come, and we're doing it for Lindsey and the kids.

"He'll be looking down on us and he'll be going 'thumbs up'. We're so proud to be here and it's amazing what you can achieve."

Mr Burrow said: "It's amazing what a little man can achieve. You can achieve big things.

"As Rob says, in a world full of adversity you must dare to dream. We're dreaming of when this opens."

Burrow's rugby league legacy will be the focal point of Saturday's Challenge Cup final day at Wembley with a series of tributes lined up in his honour.

A minute's silence will be staged before both the men's and women's finals while a minute's applause will also take place in the seventh minute of each match - Burrow wore the number seven shirt for Leeds - as well as the schools and 1895 cup finals.

Burrow spent his entire rugby league career with Leeds Rhinos and helped them win eight Super League titles.

In 2019 - two years after his retirement - Burrow revealed his MND diagnosis and began fundraising and campaigning to raise awareness of the disease and to improve care and research.

Before his death, Burrow spearheaded a £6.8m charity appeal for Leeds Hospitals Charity, where he received care, for a centre for those with the disease living in and around the city.

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Since Burrow's death was announced on Sunday evening, the appeal has received around 1,000 donations.

He was also made an MBE in the 2021 New Year Honours list for his services to rugby league and the MND community and was promoted to a CBE in the 2024 New Year Honours.