Keighley Cougars have announced that club legend Phil Stephenson, aged 47, has died after suffering from motor neurone disease.

The club revealed the news on Saturday evening in a statement which read: "It is with great sadness that we this evening bring the news of Phil Stephenson's passing following his battle with Motor Neurone Disease. Our deepest condolences go to (his wife) Karen and the Stephenson family. We also ask you please respect their privacy at this most difficult of times."

The former Cougars captain, whose diagnosis of the disease was announced in June 2017, holds the record for the most number of appearances for Keighley in the summer era.

The long-serving prop played 343 games for the club in a 15-year spell before retiring at the age of 34 at the end of the 2006 season, having been part of the successful 'Cougarmania' period during the 1990s.

He joined Keighley from Clayton Amateur Rugby League Club and also played for Silsden ARLFC after retiring from the semi-professional game.

News of his death has seen an outpouring of tributes on social media.

Cougars team manager Frank Levy wrote: "I’m sure I speak on behalf of all the players and staff. Phil Stephenson was not only a great player and a Cougars legend

but the way he fought the disease was amazing.

"Karen Stephenson - your family is an absolute credit to you both. I’m proud to have been involved in a small way helping to raise funds for MNDA (Motor Neurone Disease Association). He will be greatly missed by everyone who knew him."

Steph Hooley wrote on Facebook: "The word legend gets banded about too often but Phil fully deserves that title! An absolute gentleman who always made time for everyone, and a true warrior on and off the field in every battle he faced!"

Adam Spencer wrote: "Was lucky to have watched most of Stevo's games, never took a back step. Was a leader on the field and such a nice fella - RIP Phil."

Cougars chairman Mick O'Neill paid tribute to Stephenson before the club's end of season award ceremony last night.

The former prop was made club president when O'Neill returned to the club as new owner in January this year.

Stephenson was entered into the Cougars Hall of Fame in 2007.