Vicelich - Sumner a huge loss for football

Words: NZF Media

Wednesday 8 February 2017

Picture: Phototek

AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Navy Blues and All Whites legend Ivan Vicelich describes the loss of New Zealand international great Steve Sumner as he passes away aged just 61. 

The legend of New Zealand Football, who was diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate cancer in September 2015, endured six rounds of chemotherapy and defied the odds before his health deteriorated at the start of this year.

Sumner passed away this morning surrounded by his family in Merivale, Christchurch.

AUDIO - Ivan Vicelich on the late Steve Sumner 

After serving an apprenticeship with Blackpool, the English-born Sumner came to New Zealand in 1976 to begin his football career with Christchurch United where he won the League title in his first season.

Sumner went on to win six Chatham Cup titles – the only player to have won six Chatham Cup winner’s medals – and five league titles.

The attacking midfielder’s international career spanned from 1976 to 1988 where he represented a record 105 times, 58 of which were A internationals where he scored 22 goals.

He holds the record for the most goals scored in an international when he scored six goals during New Zealand’s 13–0 defeat of Fiji during the 1982 World Cup qualifying campaign.

His goal in the 5-2 loss to Scotland in the 1982 World Cup was the first from an Oceania player at a FIFA World Cup and he was one of only two scorers for New Zealand from that tournament, alongside Steve Wooddin.

In 1991, Sumner’s feats for the All Whites were recognised when he was inducted into the New Zealand Soccer Media Association Hall of Fame.

In 2010 he was awarded FIFA’s top award, the FIFA Order of Merit, before the opening of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, along with Johan Cruyff and former South African president Thabo Mbeki.

Last year, New Zealand Football ran a ‘Play it For Steve’ campaign during the Chatham Cup which raised awareness for Prostate Cancer and it well supported by football clubs around the country which was a mark of respect for the man.

Also in 2016, the grandstand at English Park in Christchurch was renamed ‘The Steve Sumner Stand’ in his honour. A staunchly proud Cantabrian, Sumner was humbled by the occasion.

In October, Sumner was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for Services to Football at Government House in Wellington. Mr Steven Paul Sumner of Christchurch, surrounded by his family, was presented with the award by the Governor General of New Zealand Dame Patsy Reddy during the Investiture ceremony.

He will be remembered as a great of New Zealand Football and New Zealand sport.


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