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All Whites great Sumner dies aged 61

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 7/02/2017

Former All Whites captain Steve Sumner has died at the age of 61.

New Zealand Football confirmed Sumner died on Wednesday morning, 17 months after being diagnosed with prostate cancer.

An attacking midfielder whose career spanned 13 years, English-born Sumner is best recognised as an inspirational skipper of the New Zealand side who made history by competing the 1982 World Cup finals in Spain.

Following a memorable qualifying series, Sumner led the All Whites in their maiden finals appearance. He scored their first-ever tournament goal, in the 5-2 loss to Scotland.

Sumner played 58 internationals from 1976 to 1988 and scored 22 times, placing him third on the all-time goal-scoring list. His 105 total matches is a New Zealand record.

Six goals in the 13-0 rout of Fiji in 1981 remains an All Whites record.

He is among just 31 players, and the only New Zealander, to have received the FIFA Order of Merit, the highest player honour awarded by the international governing body.

Sumner played a role in the opening of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, alongside late Dutch great Johan Cruyff.

Following his retirement in 1988, Sumner held various roles and was a regular commentator on the game.

Over the last year he became a prominent voice in advocating for men's health issues.

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