Rugby: Highlanders recruit Freddie Burns breaks down over fan letter before final game for Leicester Tigers

Highlanders recruit Freddie Burns has bid a tearful farewell to his Leicester Tigers club, breaking down over a fan letter thanking him for bringing joy to a dying grandfather in his final moments.

The former England international became a cult hero, when he dropkicked the winning goal in last year's Gallagher Premiership final against Saracens - a glorious climax to a career that has included more infamous moments.

As Burns, 32, approached his final game for the Tigers, supporters were encouraged to pay tribute to their departing hero, but some of their response left him grovelling in tears.

"My first Tigers game, I was taken by my Grandpa, in which you were playing," Burns read to BBC Radio Leicester. "I had the pleasure of meeting you after the game - I grabbed a photo that my Grandpa had on his mantelpiece of me and Freddie.

"Fast forward to the premiership final many years later and my Grandpa was extremely unwell approaching the weekend of the final. Having been at Twickenham, it was an incredible experience and all the work you had put in as a club came to a head that day, and I couldn't have been prouder.

"Shortly after the final, the same night, my Grandpa sadly passed away. Before this, he couldn't remember much at this point and hardly speak at all, but his last memories were watching the final on TV, we had a catch-up that night and some of his last words were, 'Your man from the photo won the Premiership, didn't he?'

"We spoke about it, about the final and proud he was. I just want to say how incredibly grateful I am to Fred, and cherish the last moments he gave me and my Grandpa together."

The letter struck a particular chord with Burns, who admits he lost his own grandfather last season.

Leicester Tigers languish mid-table in the Premiership this season and were edged 19-18 by Northampton in Burns' final appearance, with fans giving him a standing ovation, as he left the field.

"Been blown away by all your messages over the last week," he tweeted. "Thought I'd read them all until @adamjwhitty put these in front of [me].

"Thanks Adam and thanks everyone."

Highlanders open their Super Rugby season against the Blues on February 25.