He may hail from the wrong side of the Pennines but Kevin Sinfield is a bona fide Leeds sporting hero.
Now civic leaders have confirmed his adopted Loiner status by choosing him as the latest recipient of the prestigious Leeds Award.
And, just for once, the Leeds Rhinos legend was caught on the blind-side as details of the honour were revealed.
Oldham-born Sinfield had no idea he had been picked for the award until Leeds City Council leader Coun Judith Blake announced it to him and the rest of the guests at a dinner at Leeds Town Hall last night.
Speaking today about the council’s decision to recognise the man the fans revere as Sir Kev, Coun Blake said: “There is no doubt that Kevin’s achievements both on and off the pitch have proved that he is a more than worthy recipient of this civic accolade.
“Kevin’s hard work, dedication and inspiring leadership have been absolutely pivotal in driving forward the Rhinos’ unbelievable success since he assumed the captaincy aged just 22 in 2003.
“While we all quite rightly celebrate Kevin’s immense skills on the pitch, there is much more to him than that.
“The way he conducts himself and his professionalism is an absolute credit to both the club and his family, and he really is a fantastic role model especially for young people in Leeds.
“Kevin simply is the epitome of what you want a sportsperson to be.”
Launched by the council in 2007, the Leeds Award is given to people whose contributions have made a real difference to life in the city.
Last night’s dinner was organised to mark the 10th anniversary of the launch of the Leeds Rhinos Foundation, the club’s official charity.
It also gave the city of Leeds the chance to welcome the New Zealand playing squad ahead of their match against the Rhinos at Headingley Carnegie Stadium tomorrow night.
The game was due to be Sinfield’s final appearance for Leeds before his switch to rugby union’s Yorkshire Carnegie but he has been ruled out with a hand injury.
Meanwhile, Rhinos fans can really make some noise at the big game – with a little help from the Yorkshire Evening Post.
The YEP promotional bus will be at Headingley Carnegie Stadium from 4pm tomorrow selling our 40-page special publication about the Rhinos’ treble-winning season.
Copies of the special will come with a free fan clapper to help mark the club’s glorious 2015 campaign as well as the YEP’s 125th anniversary.