A former Preston North End and Blackpool youngster has scooped an award in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for services to football, according to the New Zealand Herald.
Steve Sumner, now 61, was on the books of both Blackpool and Preston North End as a youngster in the early-70s, before crossing the globe to take up the game in New Zealand, most famously with Christchurch United and Manurewa AFC.
The Herald reports that Sumner was unsure of his future at the Lilywhites when an assistant coach told him that Christchurch United in New Zealand were interested.
Moving to New Zealand in 1973 on a one-way airfare, Sumner was boosted by the club’s $15 win bonus.
The Englishman never looked back, winning the first of five league titles in his first season in the country and being the only player to win six Chatham Cup winners’ medals.
His 16-year career spanned from 1973 until 1989 and two spells with Christchurch sandwiched stints with Newcastle, West Adelaide, Manurewa and Gisborne City.
It was his international career that catapulted him to stardom in the game. Winning his first cap in 1976, Steve made a record 105 appearances for the All Whites, including 58 A-internationals.
Making his name as an attacking midfielder, he netted six times in his country’s 13-0 defeat of Fiji in the 1982 World Cup Qualifying Campaign and would better that by scoring in the finals in Spain as the All Whites were beaten 5-2 by Scotland.
Inducted into the New Zealand Soccer Media Association Hall of Fame in 1991, he was handed FIFA’s top award, the Order of Merit, in 2010.
Since retirement, Steve has embarked upon a media career and sits on the Executive Board at Wellington Phoenix.
The Herald reports that the former Christchurch favourite has been bestowed with the Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to football.