Leeds Rhinos legend Kevin Sinfield has thanked the fans who propelled him to second place in the race to be named 2015’s BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
Sinfield picked up a whopping 28 per cent of the votes cast by the public during last night’s awards ceremony but was just edged out for top spot by Andy Murray.
The former Rhinos captain was the first ever rugby league player nominated for the annual prize and won support from fans of clubs across the sport.
‘Sir Kev’, who skippered Leeds to a magnificent trophy treble in 2015, said: “It is absolutely awesome to have been named runner-up in the Sports Personality of the Year awards.
“It’s been an unbelievable year and I am eternally grateful for everyone who has voted tonight, to everyone at Leeds and also the wider game.”
Speaking after the awards ceremony at Belfast’s SSE Arena, Sinfield added: “For rugby league this took us to a different level tonight and in terms of growing our sport and inspiring young people to pick up a rugby ball and go play rugby league hopefully tonight will have some impact on that.
It’s been an unbelievable year and I am eternally grateful for everyone who has voted.Kevin Sinfield
“I would just like to thank everyone who has voted and I understand the tribal nature of team sports but thank you to players of other clubs and fans of other clubs and rugby league is certainly the winner tonight.
“It is quite uncomfortable winning an individual award when you have spent your whole life chasing team trophies and I would like to dedicate this to the rest of the Rhinos and more importantly to the whole of rugby league.”
Sinfield, who recently crossed codes to sign for rugby union side Yorkshire Carnegie, was joined on stage in Belfast by his former Rhinos team-mates.
Interviewed by event co-host Clare Balding, he reflected on their treble campaign and said: “I know how tough it is in our competition to win one trophy so to win three and walk out the way I did was brilliant.”
And, asked what advice he would give any youngster who wanted to be the next Kevin Sinfield, he joked “don’t do it” before saying: “I was never the strongest, the fittest, the fastest, but I decided to make myself the most committed.
“I think by having commitment and the right attitude you can go a long, long way in sport.”