The 40-year-old Yorkshireman, Rob Burrow, participated in rugby league play with Leeds Rhinos. He played 493 games between 2001 and 2017, most of them as the team’s preferred scrum-half or hooker.
In addition to winning two Challenge Cups and eight Super League titles, he was nominated to the Super League Dream Team three times.
During his illustrious career, Burrow also earned 15 caps for England and 5 for Great Britain.
Despite being exceptionally little for a rugby player at 165cm (5ft 5in) in height and 66kg (10 stone, 5lb) in body weight, he managed to do all of this. For many years, he was referred to as the “smallest player in the Super League.”
What happened to Rob Burrow?
Burrow revealed his diagnosis of motor neuron disease (MND) in December 2019. The illness affects the brain and nerves and is also referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS); around 90% of patients with MND have the mixed ALS form of the illness.
There is no known cure, and it gets worse with time. Muscle cramping, a weak grip, and slurred speech are some of the early symptoms. It is a rare and seldom hereditary condition.
Regarding the illness, the NHS states: “It’s caused by an issue with cells in the motor neurones, which are nerves in the brain. Over time, these cells eventually quit functioning.
The reason for this is unknown. MND is incurable, but there are ways to treat it, even if it might be challenging to diagnose in its early stages.
“I expected to be told I had something that could be treated and move on,” Burrow told the BBC at the time of his diagnosis.
It was a bit of a shock when the doctor told me I had something which has no cure. Apart from my voice and a few bits and bobs, I feel normal and good to go.
Today has been a big day for me and my family but I would like you all to know I have read every message and post.
I can’t explain how overwhelmed I am at the reaction I have had from people throughout our amazing sport. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart!”
December 19, 2019 — Rob Burrow MBE (@Rob7Burrow)
Burrow continued, “The hardest bit is that you do not know why you have it and there is nothing you can do. Maybe it’s the athlete in us all, we don’t want to lie down and just take it, we want to compete.”
In December 2020, Burrow was named an MBE in the 2021 New Year Honours List for his services to rugby league and the motor neurone disease community. able to perform.
Burrow’s health had gotten much worse. He uses a wheelchair and a device akin to the one that the late, well-known physicist Stephen Hawking, who also had MND, used to speak.
What is Kevin Sinfield up to?
In order to help his friend, another Leeds Rhinos legend Kevin Sinfield has taken on a number of challenges in favour of MND organisations.
For example, Sinfield ran seven ultra-marathons in seven days in November 2022. “Throughout his career, Rob overcame the odds to become a legend of the game and I know he will tackle this challenge with the exact same positive determination.
As a club, Rob will receive our full support and we will be working with him to chart the way forward.”