Tributes for Maccabi League footballer, 34, who died of motor neurone disease

Praise from Oscar-winning actor Eddie Redmayne who was inspired by Robert Davidson's struggle against the illness


Tributes have poured in for a lawyer with a passion for sport who died aged just 34 last weekend after suffering from motor neurone disease.

Robert Davidson, who was born Leeds, had moved to north-west London after university, where he lived with his wife Sariet and their young daughter, Maya Belle.

Diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND) in 2015 and having lost use of his limbs and his ability to speak he continued working as a partner at a law firm and set up a charity to offer financial support for families having to deal with the life-threatening illness.

Actor Eddie Redmayne, a campaigner for MND awareness, was among those inspired by Mr Davidson's brave attempt to live with the disease.

A sports fanatic, Mr Davidson was also fondly remembered for his Maccabi Sunday football league appearances with Oakwood A, who he signed for in 2006 having previously played for Leeds Maccabi.

Oakwood A joint manager Ric Blank led the tributes to his former player. He said: "Everyone at Oakwood is incredibly sad at Rob’s passing. Rob was a true individual who touched so many lives with his infectious personality and many idiosyncrasies."

Speaking after his funeral at Bushey cemetery on Monday, Mr Blank added: "His greatest challenge was not on the football pitch. It came when he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease aged 33. But as if he was going in for a fifty-fifty on a muddy pitch he did not shirk it. He embraced it and in doing so became an inspiration.

"His love of life and refusal to be beaten by this terrible disease was incredible. It brought us all closer together and reminded us of what a football club can be."

MGBSFL chairman Dave Wolff also paid his respects to Mr Davidson, who had begun writing poetry in the latter years of his life as a way for expressing himself.

Mr Wolff said: "I am sure everyone will join with me to wish his wife and all the other mourners ‘long life’ and to convey our condolences to the Oakwood club."

In June,  Mr Redmayne highlighted a video made of Robert and his family to launch a new MND awareness campaign.

He said: "I was delighted to highlight this beautiful video about Robert and his young family as it's important to raise awareness of this brutal disease. I want as many people as possible to watch - and share - the video, so that understanding of MND will be greater in the future."

Mr Davidson had worked three days a week as a property lawyer, and became a father for the first time when daughter Maya was born January.

He used to go to the gym four times a week with his wife and loved playing squash and football, but became confined to a wheelchair.

Mr Davidson had said his diagnosis had taught him to "find beauty in between the cracks and feel majesty in the mundane".

He insisted: "I want to share how my perspective has changed for the better through poetry.

"My daughter is adorable. My wife has been unbelievable. I've actually had a great year."

A foundation has been set up in his name.

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive