It is with great sadness that Wellington Phoenix acknowledges the passing of a true legend of New Zealand football, former All White captain, media pundit and Wellington Phoenix board member, Steve Sumner.
Born in England, Sumner moved to New Zealand as a seventeen-year-old after serving football apprenticeships at Blackpool and Preston North End and went on to record over 100 international appearances for New Zealand over a 12-year period with the national side.
The on-field heartbeat of the All Whites team that drove to the 1982 World Cup finals, Sumner scored six goals in one game against Fiji, and the nation’s first ever World Cup finals goal against Scotland.
He was a passionate supporter of Wellington Phoenix, serving first on the board, but also helping out behind the scenes with promotion and fan engagement, especially in bringing games to Christchurch.
“Steve was a terrific contributor to the club, especially in its infancy,” said Wellington Phoenix’s General Manager David Dome.
“His leadership and force of personality off the field and around the club helped solidify our identity and passion for the game.”
“More than that though he was a totemic figure for all of New Zealand football. You couldn’t watch the 1982 World Cup and not be inspired by Steve – he became synonymous with the early success and development of the game in this country.”
The Wellington Phoenix playing group intend to wear black armbands during their game against Sydney FC tomorrow night as a mark of respect for Sumner’s legacy to football in New Zealand.
Sumner is survived by his wife Jude, his sons Paul, Carl and Deano and his daughter Tori, and our sincere condolences and thoughts are with them at this difficult time.