The huge Sunday Times number one bestselling inspirational memoir from rugby league legend Rob Burrow on his extraordinary career and his battle with motor neurone disease.
‘A pocket rocket of a player and a giant of a character . . . He is one in a million and his story is truly inspirational’ – Clare Balding
‘I’m not giving in until my last breath’ – Rob Burrow
Rob Burrow is one of the greatest rugby league players of all time. And the most inspirational. As a boy, Rob was told he was too small to play the sport. Even when he made his debut for Leeds Rhinos, people wrote him off as a novelty. But Rob never stopped proving people wrong. During his time at Leeds, for whom he played almost 500 games, he won eight Super League Grand Finals, two Challenge Cups and three World Club Challenges. He also played for his country in two World Cups.
In December 2019, Rob was diagnosed with motor neurone disease, a rare degenerative condition, and given a couple of years to live. He was only thirty-seven, not long retired and had three young children. When he went public with the devastating news, the outpouring of affection and support was extraordinary. When it became clear that Rob was going to fight it all the way, sympathy turned to awe.
This is the story of a tiny kid who adored rugby league but never should have made it – and ended up in the Leeds hall of fame. It’s the story of a man who resolved to turn a terrible predicament into something positive – when he could have thrown the towel in. It’s about the power of love, between Rob and his childhood sweetheart Lindsey, and of friendship, between Rob and his faithful teammates. Far more than a sports memoir, Too Many Reasons to Live is a story of boundless courage and infinite kindness.
Although I am not a sports fan, living in Leeds, of course I have heard of Leeds Rhinos. I’ll be honest though, I couldn’t name any of the players. Sport has never been my thing but hearing of Robs diagnosis and also losing a work colleague who was a friend from the same illness, I wanted to read this to help me understand more not only about the illness but how someone comes to terms with being told something so life changing.
The book is told from Rob’s point of view and includes parts from family, friends and his team mates as well as a few others that know him. At the very end of the book, there are some pictures of Rob at various ages of his life. Rob mentions a few times how he doesn’t want the book to be self pitying but something positive and he did a great job.
There is a lot about his childhood and his determination to play rugby even though everyone thought he was too small. Not being a lover of rugby, I probably didn’t appreciate those parts as much as someone who is a lover of the sport would do but there are various funny moments throughout his career with his constant pranks with his team mates that made it compelling reading.
Due to the subject matter and even though Rob try’s to keep everything up beat, some parts are highly emotional. More so the day when he is told his diagnosis and how his parents responded when they were told. I don’t know this family but my heart literally broke. As a parent, hearing Rob’s thoughts on how he would miss out on his children’s lives and how upsetting it was knowing that his youngest probably wouldn’t even be able to remember him, it’s so hard to even comprehend. What’s worse is that there is very little funding going in to finding a cure which is a hard pill to swallow for not only sufferers but for their family and friends.
There was a particular part that I wanted to quote from the book as it really stood out to me and gives you food for thought.
Every morning you wake up, you’ve got a choice: you can spend your day soaking up everything that’s bad about the world, while bitching and moaning, or you can block all that out and do stuff that makes you content. You haven’t got long in this world, so why waste time having a row with someone you don’t even know on Twitter?
It’s great to see that Rob so far has survived longer than the time scale he was given. This could be down to the different medication or his amazing strength in fighting against MND. Either way, Rob has shown that whilst there may be some dark days, we all should live our life to the fullest and spend it with the people we love. An inspiring, uplifting and emotional read!