WHAT A brilliant end to an unforgettable year for local rugby legend Kevin Sinfield.
If bowing out of Rugby League by winning the rarely-achieved treble with Leeds Rhinos was not enough, the 35-year-old from Grotton finished runner-up in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year in December 2015.
It was the first time anybody from RL had ever been shortlisted for the award, but he polled a staggering 278,353 votes on the night to finish second to tennis ace Andy Murray as the pair amassed almost two thirds of just over one million votes cast.
And Kevin admitted it came as a shock to finish ahead of world champions like Jessica Ennis-Hill, Tyson Fury, Lewis Hamilton, Mo Farrah and Greg Rutherford as well as two times Tour de France winner Chris Froome.
He said: “I was delighted to be named in the list of 12 [finalists] and had no expectations when I went to Belfast other than to enjoy the night with the Rhinos lads and have one last chance to celebrate.
“It is difficult being up for an individual award when you are a team player, something I am a bit uncomfortable with.
“But the support I received from the people of Oldham and Rugby League was incredible and very humbling.
“To be in the top three, and finish second, was unbelievable when you looked at the names on the list.”
Kevin, who is RL’s most decorated player, captained Rhinos to the League Leaders’ Shield, Challenge Cup and Grand Final in the 2015 season.
He has now switched codes joining Rhinos’ sister club Yorkshire Carnegie and hopes to lead them from the second tier of the sport to the Aviva Premiership.
And having had two-and-a-half months in the 15-man game, Kevin is relishing the challenge in the twilight years of his career.
He said: “It is still early stages, but I am enjoying the challenge and the freshness, and every day I am learning and getting better.
“It is a huge change, but it is one I felt I needed to do. The first month was about building trust with my new team-mates and getting a game understanding as it was like starting out all over again.”
If that is not enough, Kevin is also working on his first-ever book covering his career titled “My League Years in Words and Pictures”, which will be out in March.
The book, published by Great Northern Books and costing £25, will be a high quality, large format, hardback edition with outstanding colour photos throughout.
In it, Kevin will review the whole of his amazing Rugby League career from his debut in 1997, aged 16, through to his 521st and final appearance last October, when he lifted the Super League title at Old Trafford.
Written with Peter Smith and with pictures selected by Steve Riding, both of whom have followed Kevin’s career from its very start for the Yorkshire Evening Post, this book will be a comprehensive, personal and insightful look at the stellar career of a rugby legend.
The greatest captain of the modern era, he led Rhinos to unprecedented success, including seven Grand Final wins, three World Club titles, the League Leaders’ Shield three times and back-to-back victories at Wembley in the Challenge Cup.
He was a regular on the international scenes for 13 years, rising to captain of England and he holds a host of records, including most points and appearances in Super League.
Kevin said: “It is not an autobiography, but a look back on my career and is more of a celebration as I was fortunate to win trophies and it has been great to look back at those memories.
“I’ve wanted to do a book like this for a long time to capture some of the moments in my career that are very special to me. To do it now, at the end of my Rugby League years, seems right to me.
“The book is a tribute to Waterhead in Oldham where it all started when I was a young lad, and Rhinos, my home for 18 years, as well as to the fans and my friends and family that have supported me across the years.
“I hope they will enjoy reading it as much as I am enjoying putting it together.”
You can have your named included in a list of fans if you pre-order the book before midnight on Sunday, January 17 – the deadline has been specially extended from January 11 for readers of the Independent.
£1 from the sale of all advance orders of the book will be donated to Leeds Rhinos Foundation which supports grassroots rugby league and work in the community.
Signed copies of the book may be ordered at a cost of £25 or two for £45 (inc post and packaging). Advance orders for signed copies will include an opportunity for fans to have their name printed inside the book in a section entitled ‘Sinfield Fans’.
For more information about the book or to order a copy, go to www.kevinsinfield.co.uk