The Canterbury United Dragons will wear blue armbands at their game today to honour Steve Sumner, who died on Wednesday.
The 61-year-old was synonymous with Christchurch United during the 1970s-80s and captained the All Whites to their first ever World Cup finals appearance in Spain, 1982.
Sports reporter Gordon Findlater spoke to those who knew him:
Bobby Almond, 1982 World Cup teammate: “He is the most outstanding player that’s ever played for New Zealand. I know that might be a subject for debate, but he was the complete player.
“He was outstanding in that World Cup campaign. He led us to such distinction and showed such determination and discipline. He was the perfect choice for captain. He was not only a strong, tough, hard nosed and committed player. He’s also very technically skilful. He had it all, he could score goals, he could create, he could defend, he had a great attitude and a good sense of humour.”
Ben Sigmund, former All White: “It didn’t matter who it was, when you made the All Whites he was always the first guy to send you a message and wish you well. He showed us how proud he was of that shirt and his country.”
Andy Martin, New Zealand Football chief executive: “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.”
Julian Bowden, Mainland Football chief executive: “Our thoughts are with Jude (Sumner) and the rest of the family who have been fighting this battle with Steve for a long time now.
“He’s an absolute legend who has gone too early. We’re thankful that we’ve got to know him and he’s been part of our lives.
“As you got to know him, yes, football was the vehicle through which he met and interacted with people, but he was just a really great human being.”
Steve Sumner facts:
- Born April 2, 1955.
- Came to New Zealand from England in 1976 to begin his football career with Christchurch United where he won the league title in his first season.
- Represented New Zealand a record 105 times from 1976 to 1988, 58 of which were A internationals where he scored 22 goals.
- 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.
- Position: Attacking midfielder
- 6 Chatham Cup titles (more than any other player)
- 5 National League titles
- National League Golden Boot Award (1983)
- National League Player of the Year (1983)
- FIFA Centennial Award (2004)
- FIFA Order of Merit (2010)
- Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (2016)
- Christchurch United (147 appearances, 36 goals)
- Newcastle United (18 appearances, 3 goals)
- West Adelaide SC (12 appearances, 2 goals)
- Manurewa AFC (66 appearances, 29 goals)
- Gisborne City (25 appearances, 6 goals)