New Zealand football legend Steve Sumner dies

  • 08/02/2017

Steve Sumner, All Whites great and captain of the famed 1982 World Cup team, has passed away at the age of 61.

Sumner was diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate cancer in September of 2015 and died surrounded by his family at his home in Merivale, Christchurch 17 months later.

The attacking midfielder was most renowned for his impact on the 1982 All Whites side which became the first to ever qualify for the FIFA World Cup finals, its most influential player at the tournament in Spain during what became one of New Zealand's most celebrated and iconic sporting campaigns.

Sumner starred for the All Whites at the 1982 World Cup (Photosport file)
Sumner starred for the All Whites at the 1982 World Cup (Photosport file)

Born and raised in Blackpool before emigrating to New Zealand, his international career included a record 105 All Whites appearances between 1976 and 1988, during which time he scored 22 goals.

Sumner was a fixture of football in Canterbury, playing 147 games for Christchurch United across a seven year span, claiming five league titles and a record six Chatham Cup victories.

He later enjoyed brief stints in Australia with West Adelaide and also English club Newcastle United.

New Zealand Football released a statement lauding Sumner's contribution to the sport.

"What he and the All Whites team from 1982 achieved in that FIFA World Cup campaign put New Zealand on the world football map and his legacy will last forever,” said CEO Andy Martin.

"Steve was not only a great footballer, he was also a great man and he will be sorely missed."

Sumner celebrating qualification for the 2010 World Cup finals with former teammate and All Whites coach Ricki Herbert (Photosport file)
Sumner celebrating qualification for the 2010 World Cup finals with former teammate and All Whites coach Ricki Herbert (Photosport file)

Sumner became the first New Zealander to be awarded the FIFA Order of Merit in 2010, one of just 31 recepients ever, and in 2016 received the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to football.

Following his diagnosis in late 2015, Sumner went on to become an outspoken advocate for men's health, particularly the importance of regular prostate checks. 

Newshub.