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Just before Christmas last year, I spoke to Steve Sumner for what turned out to be the last time. He had planned to fly to Perth for some nuclear medicine treatments, though specialists had warned the treatment wouldn't work for his situation.
The prognosis wasn't great - his prostate cancer had spread to his back, ribs, liver and lymph nodes - but Sumner remained courageously positive.
"I'm not sat here moping," said Sumner. "I need to set a plan of how I am going to attack what I've got from here on through. The one thing I want to give people is hope. I've just been told recently it's weeks to months, but you never know."
At such a difficult time, his thoughts were of others. He often said the situation was tougher on his family than him and was constantly pushing a public message for people to get checked.
"I know of four people who have had something detected early," said Sumner. "That's the most important thing; that's what I want to get out there - get yourself checked."
Sumner enjoyed a "wonderful Christmas" with his extended family and was particularly proud of his grandchildren. Stella (10 months) was "the cheeriest little thing, she's crawling like the clappers" and Beckett (2) was a "flipping good sportsman, he kicks it properly [and] looks like a footballer."
Sumner often talked about his beloved Manchester City, who he had followed since 1969, when he hitchhiked to Blackburn (from Preston) to watch them win 4-1 at Ewood Park in an FA Cup tie. He also keenly rode the fortunes of the Wellington Phoenix.
But his favourite football topic was the 1981-82 All Whites. They were one of the greatest teams New Zealand has produced, with a togetherness, fortitude and brotherhood that has rarely been matched.
They played a staggering 30 games in 14 months from April 1981, living together in an Auckland motel for weeks at a time.
"That was the best time of my career," said Sumner. "We went through a lot together and they are still like long lost brothers to this day. We don't see each other as often as we used to but it's still there when we do."
His favourite memory was the playoff win over China in Singapore.
Despite his fragile health, his recall was as lucid as ever. He talked of the scenes in the dressing room before the game, as coach John Adshead steeled the team for one last effort.
"The buzzer went but John wouldn't let us out," said Sumner. "He said, 'Sit down, I haven't finished with you yet'. And he did what he did best - got you in the mood. We didn't need much, but he wanted to make sure we were crossing that line in the right frame of mind.