Rugby league star Rob Burrow will be made an MBE after selflessly turning his diagnosis with a terminal illness into a charity crusade to help other sufferers.
The Leeds Rhinos Rugby League legend – who suffers from motor neurone disease – will be given the award in the New Year’s Honours.
The Leeds Rhinos legend, who has motor neurone disease, will be given the award in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list.
Dad-of-three Rob, 38, told 12 months ago how he had been diagnosed with the illness – and medics said he had one to two years to live.
A source said: “Rob’s story has really touched the hearts of everyone. His incredible will to raise money despite battling MND is nothing short of astonishing.
“He has refused to let the illness take over his life – instead showing the same strength that he always showed as a player.”
At 5ft 5in, Rob was famed as the smallest player in the Super League.
But his short stature did not stop him winning the Challenge Cup twice, scoring a try in the Rhinos’ 2015 win over Hull KR.
He also won eight Grand Finals and three World Club Challenges in his 17 years with the side. After retiring in 2017, he took on a coaching role.
But gradual changes in his speech led him to be diagnosed with MND two weeks before Christmas last year.
Motor Neurone Disease is a degenerative condition that affects how the nerves in the brain and spinal cord function.
In January, Rob took part in a testimonial match for Leeds against Bradford Bulls.
Before the game, he walked out on the pitch with his children Macy, eight, Maya, five, and Jackson, one.
And in a bid to raise awareness of the illness, he let TV cameras follow him for BBC documentary Rob Burrow: My Year With MND.
Rob, who is married to Lindsey, 37, has also inspired other fundraisers, including a static cycle record attempt.
And his resolve prompted ex-teammate Kevin Sinfield to take on a gruelling running challenge, completing seven marathons in seven days to raise funds for the Motor Neurone Disease Association.
One of the seven runs was held in Leeds – where he was greeted by Rob as he crossed the finish line.
And although he had set his target at £77,777, Kevin ended up collecting more than £2.5million for the charity.
During his career, Rob made 493 appearances for Leeds.
He has already been honoured with a mural in the city.
Rob is not the only pioneering sportsman set for honours. It is understood that F1 champion Lewis Hamilton, 35, is expected to be knighted – after taking his seventh world drivers’ title.
And Manchester United ace Marcus Rashford was given an MBE in the Queen’s birthday honours in October for his school meals campaign.
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