After 15 Years, Steve Cherundolo Hangs Up His Boots
Hannover 96 captain and US International Steven Cherundolo has finally called it a career, announcing his retirement on Wednesday after playing a club-high 302 Bundesliga matches.
Cherundolo cited lingering knee issues as the main reason why he wanted to hang up his boots. The right back has only made two appearances this season, his latest coming on on December 21, 2013 against SC Freiburg in a 2-1 loss.
"Because of several knee injuries in the past 15 months, I have to stop my career as a professional footballer today," Cherundolo told reporters. "I have been allowed since 1999 to be with Hannover 96, a club that has made incredible sporting and economic progress. But at the same time it has not lost its heart and soul – namely, the fans. I am thrilled about further involvement in the club, and I will try to give back everything that I have learned as a professional football player and man at Hannover 96. Thank you very much."
Unlike most American soccer players at that time who ended up playing in Major League Soccer, the San Diego-native went abroad, joining Hannover 96 towards the end of the 1998-1999 season back when the club was in the 2. Bundesliga. In the 2001-2002 season, he started in 30 matches and played a role in helping the club get promoted to 1. Bundesliga. The club has remained in the top flight ever since. Cherundolo has also been named in the US National Team roster for the past three World Cups. Despite not receiving playing time in 2002 due to injury, he was featured in the 2006 and 2010 edition of the tournament, playing in the last seven World Cup matches. Cherundolo also played for the US in three Gold Cup tournaments, including the 2005 Gold Cup championship team along with the 2007 and 2009 tournament.
The now-retired captain plans to give back to his club by joining the coaching staff for the Hannover 96 U-23 team, Hannover II. He aims to obtain the final three German coaching badges (required to work at a professional level) when the season ends.
"I have seen Steven Cherundolo in his previous 15 years at Hannover 96 as a model professional and responsible and strong character," said Kind. "His career at 96 is marked with unprecedented success and of exceptional club loyalty: promotion to the Bundesliga, the club's establishment in the Bundesliga, and ultimately with him as a team captain, twice participating in the Europa League. It is a pity that we will no longer see Stevie in the Bundesliga in the 96 jersey. Therefore, I am all the more happier that he will remain at 96 to pass on his wealth of experience."
Despite not being mentioned in conversation amongst the best American soccer players of all time, partly due to his position, Cherundolo’s consistency at right back, loyalty to his club, and achievement in being one of the few Americans to captain a European club in a top flight league earns him a mention as one of the best footballers in US history.