Rob Burrow announced yesterday he had been diagnosed with the rare and incurable brain and nerve condition motor neurone disease (MND).
Fans quickly rallied in support, with a total of £54,485.00 raised on Virgin Money, smashing a previous £10,000 target.
More than 2,000 fans and members of the public have lent their support to the cause.
The 37-year-old retired from playing at the end of the 2017 season, winning an eighth Super League Grand Final in his last game.
The father of three made his debut in 2001 and played 492 times for Leeds, placing him in fifth in the club’s all-time list of career appearances.
He scored 196 tries and a total of 1,103 points and won 15 England caps, as well as five Test appearances for Great Britain.
Breaking the news on Thursday (Dec 19), Burrow said: “Regrettably, today I am confirming that I have been diagnosed with motor neurone disease.
“I would like to thank everyone for the support I have received already since being given my diagnosis.
“I know I have a big challenge in front of me, but knowing that I have the love and support of so many people will give me inspiration and strength.
“I am very positive about the situation and intend to battle the condition as I still feel fit and well.
“I would like to ask for privacy at this time so I can adjust to the battle I have ahead and so that I can spend time with those closest to me ahead of Christmas and New Year.”
In those living with MND, messages from the motor neurones gradually stop reaching the muscles.
This leads the muscles to weaken, stiffen and waste and those affected may lose the ability to walk, talk, eat, drink and ultimately to breathe.
MND affects everyone differently and not all symptoms will affect everyone or in the same order.
Thousands of fans took to social media to offer their support to their hero Burrow.
Shawn Boatin said: "Watching him play, was like watching the Lionel Messi of Rugby, he defied so many odds."
Stuart Murless said: "I remember Rob Burrow growing up as an iconic league player.
"Devastated to see he’s been diagnosed with this scourge of a disease."
Rhinos director of rugby Kevin Sinfield is a former team-mate of Burrow.
He said: “This has been devastating news and heart breaking for Rob and his young family.
“The thoughts of everyone at Leeds Rhinos and, I am sure, throughout the rugby league family, are with Rob and his wife Lindsey."