In a ceremony held at Leeds Civic Hall, “Sir Kev” as he is affectionately known by Rhinos fans, was recognised for his contribution to the game and the city with the “Leeds Award”, presented by Lord Mayor Councillor Judith Chapman.
Sinfield, who was made captain of the club at 22, was told of the accolade by the council leader, Councillor Judith Blake, at a dinner for the Rhinos last season.
Today he said: “I feel very proud. I have always said that Oldham is my town but Leeds is my city. I am very grateful for all the support I have had here over the years from the fans and I am accepting this today on behalf of the Rhinos and my old team mates.”
During an illustrious 18-year career, Sinfield, 35, led the Rhinos to seven Super League titles, two Challenge Cups, and three League Leader’s shields, and scored close to 4,000 points for the Headingley side before announcing a move late last year to rugby union and Leeds Carnegie.
Capped 14 times by Great Britain and 27 times by England who he also skippered, Kevin also claimed the prestigious 2012 Golden Boot which is an award for the best rugby league player in the world.
He said: “Leeds is the city I have spent all my working life. I have formed great friendships here.” He said that being able to stay in the city playing for Leeds Carnegie had been a big part in his decision to switch to union.
The Leeds Award is given to people “who change the life or lives of the people of Leeds”.
Coun Chapman said: “It was a real honour to welcome Kevin to the civic hall and be able to present him in person with the Leeds Award which is richly deserved.
“Kevin’s achievements in rugby league and especially for the Rhinos are well known, but it is also his work outside the game, and his outstanding personal qualities that made him such a stand-out candidate to be given this accolade.”
Coun Blake said: “Kevin is an exceptional role model who has contributed massively not just to the game of rugby, but also in such a positive way to the city of Leeds during his truly outstanding career.
“It was only right therefore that as a city we acknowledged Kevin’s immense contribution, which is why last year support was unanimous when his name was first mentioned for a Leeds Award. As I said at the time when the award was announced, Kevin simply is the epitome of what you want a sportsperson to be, and a real inspiration, especially to our young people.”