The Oceania Football community is mourning All Whites legend Steve Sumner who lost his battle with cancer today, aged 61.
Sumner was captain of the All Whites during New Zealand’s first successful campaign to qualify for the World Cup in 1982.
OFC President David Chung said his thoughts are with Sumner’s family and friends at this time, acknowledging the loss of a great family man as well as a formidable footballer.
“It is truly a sad day and I know Steve will be greatly missed by many,” Chung said.
“The achievements of Steve and the team during that FIFA World Cup campaign created a strong legacy for New Zealand Football, and also the Oceania region.
“His dedication to the development of football in New Zealand has been unwavering and I am confident his legacy will continue to inspire future All Whites.”
Sumner was born in England and moved to New Zealand in 1976 where he started out with Christchurch United, winning the league title in his first season.
He went on to win six Chatham Cup titles – the only player to do so – and five league titles.
As an All White, his career spanned from 1976 to 1988, representing New Zealand a record 105 times, 58 of which were ‘A’ Internationals in which he scored 22 goals.
He will go down in history as the first Oceania player to score a goal at a FIFA World Cup after netting the first in a 5-2 loss to Scotland at the 1982 World Cup.
He was recognised for his contribution to football by FIFA in 2010 when he was awarded the FIFA Order of Merit ahead of the World Cup in South Africa.
In October last year, Sumner was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for Services to Football.
Sumner was diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate cancer in September 2015 and defied the odds before his health started to deteriorate further at the start of this year.
He passed away this morning surrounded by family in Merivale, Christchurch.