Tributes pour in to Len Johnrose who died after long battle with MND

Tributes to former Swansea, Burnley and Blackburn star Len Johnrose who has died, aged 52, after brave five-year battle with motor neurone disease

  • Len Johnrose had recently opened up about his battle with the disease  
  • Johnrose, who enjoyed a 16-year career, died on Monday after a five-year battle
  • His former clubs, including Swansea, Burnley and Blackburn paid tribute
  • Set up the Len Johnrose Trust with friends to raise awareness about MND in 2018

Tributes have poured in for former footballer Len Johnrose who has died aged 52 following a brave five-year battle with motor neurone disease.

The versatile defensive midfielder played for a host of sides during his 16-year career, most notably for Swansea, Burnley and Blackburn – who have all paid tribute to the late star.

Johnrose was diagnosed with the crippling disease in March 2017 and had recently opened up about his struggles about living with it.

He had labelled motor neurone disease as ‘brutal’ and described the trauma of ‘living in a body that does not work’.

The former footballer is survived by his wife Nadine, who he married in 2001, and his three children Chanel, Elizabeth and Patrick.

After meeting his future wife in 1997, he described it as ‘love at first sight’. ‘I couldn’t take my eyes off her and at the end of every class, practically wished away the days until the next lesson. 

‘Twenty-five years later, I still look at her in the same way I did that first time,’ he told the Express last year.

But on Monday, the former footballer tragically passed away as tributes poured in. 

Former footballer Len Johnrose died on Monday following a long five-year battle with motor neurone disease

The Len Johnrose Trust announced the death as they paid tribute to the man who set up the charity in 2018 to raise awareness about the disease. A spokesperson said: ‘We are heartbroken to tell you that our leader, Len Johnrose passed away this morning. 

‘Len was an incredibly proud husband and father. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this very sad time.’

Johnrose racked up more than 500 caps across a career that spanned a decade and a half, with the majority of his time spent at Bury during the 90s.

Tributes have poured in for the former Burnley, Blackburn and Swansea star. Pictured: Congratulating Andy Cooke after Burnley dumped Derby County out of the FA Cup

He played a pivotal role in securing Swansea City’s status in the Football League on the final day of the 2002/03 season, netting the third goal in a 4-2 victory to add to a James Thomas hat-trick.

The Preston-born midfielder started his career at Blackburn and finished it off with a return back home to Lancashire to rejoin Burnley for the third time.

After a career in football, the 52-year-old enjoyed a career in teaching. His former school, St Silas Primary School said: ‘Sad to hear that one of our former teachers Len Johnrose died this morning.

‘Our thoughts and prayers are for his wife and children. Our former pupils and their families remember him as a great teacher and an enthusiastic PE lead.#lenjohnrose @TrustLen @CidariEducation’.

Johnrose, 52, was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in March 2017 and had opened up about his battle. Pictured: At his home in Preston, Lancashire

Meanwhile the Motor Neurone Disease Association said on social media: ‘We’re saddened to hear of the death of Len Johnrose. In 2018 former footballer, Len, bravely shared his MND diagnosis to raise awareness. He went on to raise thousands with his #IceFoot92 challenge. 

‘Our thoughts are with Len’s wife Nadine, his 3 children, family and friends.’

The late former footballer challenged all 92 clubs across the top four divisions in England to film themselves standing in a bucket of ice water for 92 seconds before nominating someone else as part of a fundraiser.

In an extended tribute, the association said: ‘He spoke to student nurses about the realities of living with the disease and helped lobby local and national politicians for better services for people with MND. 

‘Len gave numerous national and regional print and broadcast interviews and was a prolific tweeter, documenting his experiences with humour and honesty.’

Johnrose’s former clubs also paid tribute to him. Burnley FC said: ‘We’re saddened to hear of the passing of former player Len Johnrose. Len passed away on Monday 15th August, after a long battle with Motor Neurone Disease. Our thoughts are with Len’s family and friends at this very sad time. You’ll always be a Claret Len’.

Meanwhile, Swansea City said: ‘Everyone at Swansea City is devastated to learn of the passing of former player Lenny Johnrose at the age of 52. 

The club sends its sincerest condolences to Lenny’s friends and family at this sad time.’

And the club where he started his career from the age of 14 said: ‘The thoughts of everyone at Blackburn Rovers are with Lenny Johnrose’s family and friends, following his passing’.


Johnrose’s former clubs Burnley, Blackburn and Swansea – along with others – all paid tribute on social media following his passing

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