Leeds & West Yorkshire

Funeral of former Leeds rugby league star John Atkinson held

John Atkinson
Image caption John Atkinson appeared for Leeds and Great Britain rugby league teams over a

The funeral has been held for former rugby league star John Atkinson who died last month at the age of 71.

Mr Atkinson played more than 500 times for Leeds and appeared in dozens of games for Great Britain during the 1960s and 70s.

The former winger developed Alzheimer's five years ago and was being cared for by his wife Carol Butterfield.

Family and friends attended the service at St Chad's Church in Headingley, Leeds.

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Leeds Rhinos held a "Celebration of John's Life" event for fans after the funeral.

The club said it was planning to commemorate Mr Atkinson's career with the team during their first home game of the season on 8 February.

Image caption Family and friends attended the service at St Chad's Church in Headingley, Leeds.

Mr Atkinson began his playing career with Leeds in 1966 after signing from Roundhay Rugby Union club.

He amassed a total of 401 tries during his career, of which 340 were scored for Leeds, making him the second highest try scorer in the club's history.

His international career from 1968 to 1980 saw him play in four world cups.

Ms Butterfield described the disease as an "evil, corrosive illness" in an interview with the BBC

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