Steve Sumner’s grandson keeps All Whites legend’s family connection alive

Five decades after All Whites legend Steve Sumner first pulled on the Christchurch United shirt, a new Sumner is making waves at one of the most successful clubs in the country.

Beckett Sumner … part of a new generation at Christchurch United.

Young Beckett Sumner is yet to turn 10 but his coaches at Christchurch United have already noticed that the apple has not fallen far from the Sumner football tree.

“The talent has skipped a generation,” laughs Beckett’s dad, Carlos, who was considered a decent footballer in his time.

“If Dad would have been around, he would have told you that Beckett has a lot more talent than I ever had.”

Main photo: Beckett Sumner, with father Carlos, presents the Steve Sumner Trophy to Wellington Olympic’s Joel Stevens after being named Player of the Match in the 2023 Men’s National League Grand Final. Stevens has since joined Christchurch United. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.

Last week, Beckett and thousands of youngsters around the country, kicked off the new season, his fourth with the same club that recruited his grandfather Steve as a fiery 17-year-old, raw talent from Preston North End.

The youngster says his grandfather passed on his passion for the game by taking him to his first Grasshopper football sessions as a two-year-old.

“I know he was a very good player and the captain of the All Whites, and he loved kicking the ball around with me when I was little,” says Beckett, who lost his beloved grandfather in 2017, when Sumner from prostate cancer aged 61.

When Sumner arrived in 1973, United had just won their first Chatham Cup, but the new recruit soon spearheaded an unprecedented period of success.

Christchurch United claimed three consecutive Chatham Cups in 1974-76, as well as the National League title in 1973, the double in 1975 and another league victory in 1978.

Captain Steve Sumner retrieves the ball after his side scores during their 4-2 Chatham Cup final win against Blockhouse Bay in 1975. Photo: Dave Barker.

Sumner then played two seasons in the new Australian National Soccer League, picked up two more Chatham Cups as player-coach for Manurewa and Gisborne City, before his swansong at United where he won another National League in 1988 as well as the 1989 Chatham Cup.

Sumner remains the only person in history to win six Chatham Cup medals.

On the way, he also earned 105 caps for his adopted country, became the first Kiwi to score at a FIFA World Cup in Spain in 1982 and received the FIFA Order of Merit.

Grandson Beckett has big boots to fill, but father Carlos says the youngster shares the football obsession that fuelled his grandfather.

“He just wants to play football, day and night. He’s a bit shy, but the moment he gets on the field he starts bossing everyone around, just like his grandpa,” laughs Carlos.

“I just love playing football, and hope I can do it for a job one day,” says Beckett.

Steve Sumner Shield … the shield is contested annually between Christchurch United and local rivals Cashmere Technical. Photo credit: Christchurch United.

Steve Sumner has a legendary status at Christchurch United and the club is delighted to continue the connection with the club’s most famous family.

“This club has been blessed with 45 All Whites over the years, but potentially even Ryan Nelsen would admit that Steve Sumner is the most famous and most influential name to ever put on the Christchurch United shirt,” says general manager Ryan Edwards.

“So to have a young Sumner running around 50 years on, in the same colours, and showing real promise, is just football magic.”

Beckett says he loves playing at the same club where his grandfather started his New Zealand adventure.

“I really like playing on the turf, under lights, with professional coaches, and I like the nice kit we wear. It feels a bit like being treated like professional footballers, and I really hope to be a real professional one day.”

READ MORE: Steve Sumner – All Whites legend and prostate cancer campaigner >>>>

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