Tributes are pouring in for former footballer Len Johnrose who died after a long five-year battle with MND

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

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

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

He had branded motor neurone disease ‘brutal’ and described the trauma of ‘living in a body that doesn’t work’.

The former footballer is survived by his wife Nadine, whom 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 each class I practically wished away the days until the next lesson.

“Twenty-five years later, I still look at her the same way I did the first time,” he told Expressen last year.

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

Former football player Len Johnrose died on Monday after 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 of the disease. A spokesperson said: “We are devastated to inform you that our manager, Len Johnrose, passed away this morning.

“Len was an incredibly proud husband and father. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends at this very sad time.’

Johnrose gained more than 500 caps in a career that spanned a decade and a half, with most of his time spent at Bury in the 90s.

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

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

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

The Preston-born midfielder started his career at Blackburn and ended it with a return home to Lancashire to join Burnley for a 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 passed away this morning.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife and children. Our former students and their families remember him as a great teacher and an enthusiastic sports leader. #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

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

The Motor Neurone Disease Association paid tribute to the late Len Johnrose, praising his bravery in speaking out about his diagnosis in 2018

The Motor Neurone Disease Association paid tribute to the late Len Johnrose, praising his bravery in speaking out about his diagnosis in 2018

Meanwhile, the Motor Neurone Disease Association said on social media: ‘We are 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 the #IceFoot92 challenge.

‘Our thoughts go out to Len’s wife Nadine, his 3 children, family and friends.’

The late former footballer challenged all 92 clubs across England’s top four divisions to film themselves 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 nursing students 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 humor and honesty.”

Johnrose’s former clubs also paid tribute to him. Burnley FC said: ‘We are saddened to hear of the passing of former player Len Johnrose. Len died on Monday 15 August, after a long battle with motor neurone disease. Our thoughts go out to 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 hear of the passing of former player Lenny Johnrose aged 52.

The club sends its deepest 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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