New Zealand football icon Steve Sumner has passed away at the age of 61 after being diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2015.
Sumner, a FIFA Order of Merit recipient for his services to the game, achieved countless career highs. Most notably he was New Zealand’s captain on their FIFA World Cup™ debut in 1982, also scoring the nation’s first goal on the world stage.
Sumner had an imposing strike-rate for a midfielder, scoring 22 goals in 58 internationals. Many of those goals were scored in his 24 matches across three FIFA World Cup campaigns. That haul includes a New Zealand-record six goals against Fiji during the All Whites' memorable 1982 World Cup campaign.
At Spain 1982, Sumner scored in the 5-2 defeat against Scotland, before losses against a strong USSR and a star-studded Brazil.
Born in England in 1955, Sumner served an apprenticeship with Blackpool before moving to New Zealand.
His club career record also makes for impressive reading and includes a record six Chatham Cup titles, including those achieved as a player-coach.
A faithful servant to the game long after his retirement, Sumner was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for Services to Football in 2016, with the grandstand at English Park in Christchurch renamed ‘The Steve Sumner Stand’ in honour of the proud Cantabrian.