Acclaimed Bradford surgeon Professor David Sharpe OBE was given an emotional send-off by football fans on Saturday when he was presented with a book of testimonials on the pitch at Valley Parade.

Prof Sharpe, who retired earlier this year after a career in plastic surgery spanning 40 years, treated dozens of victims of the Bradford City fire disaster in 1985.

He then founded the Plastic Surgery and Burns Research Unit at the University of Bradford, making the city a pioneer in the field of plastic surgery. It is now recognised as one of the top research units in the country for skin healing and wound research. And his achievements were acknowledged at City’s last home game of the season, against Crawley Town, in a ceremony organised by the Bradford City Supporters Board and the burns unit.

Prof Sharpe said he was surprised and humbled to receive a plaque bearing a message of support and gratitude.

“I was totally overwhelmed by it. I had no idea it was going to happen like that,” he said, adding that he felt he did not deserve such a “beautiful” accolade. “I thought, how can they be so complimentary? It wasn’t just me. I was just doing what I was paid to do, there were so many more who came and volunteered.”

Prof Sharpe, who will spend his retirement travelling, painting and writing, said:” It was amazing, but most of all the feeling of family was so strong, the amount of support was amazing.

“They’re just like family, just wonderful people. The club is just brilliant, the supporters, the leader of the supporters’ club – I really do think they’re a wonderful bunch and I do hope to keep in touch with them in the future,” he said.

Prof Sharpe also praised the people of Bradford and the research unit.

His wife, Tracey Sharpe, said: “His colleagues at the Burns Research Unit Bradford, work colleagues and the directors of Bradford City Football Club put their heads together to give this eminent surgeon the send off he so deserves.” Prof Sharpe’s successor, consultant surgeon Ajay Mahajan, has set up the David Sharpe Fellowship for research in plastic surgery. The Fellowship, funded by donations to the burns unit, is for people in the early stages of a career in plastic surgery and will involve research into new treatment techniques.

Saturday’s match-day programme included an eight-page supplement detailing Professor Sharpe’s accomplishments over the years.

He was honoured with an OBE in 1986 for his work in heading up the medical team treating the victims of the Valley Parade fire.

In 2011, he received an honorary doctorate in Science from the University of Bradford.

Mrs Sharpe said: “David, from such humble beginnings, has achieved so much and along the way has never forgotten his roots, in fact, he is extremely proud of them.”