Hannover 96 will hold a press conference today at which USMNT defender Steve Cherundolo, the “Mayor of Hannover,” will announce his retirement and that he will soon join the coaching staff of the only professional club for which he has ever played- Hannover 96. At age 35 Cherundolo was certainly entering the twilight of his career both domestically and internationally, but the reason for his retirement is his inability to come back from persistent knee injuries that have seen him miss most of the 2013-2014 domestic season. One can only speculate on what would have happened had he been able to come back and had he been selected for his fourth World Cup this summer. There was some talk last year that he might end his career with a season or two in MLS.
Cherundolo joined Hannover 96 in 1998 after two years at the University of Portland and remained there for the next 15 seasons. During that time he amassed over 400 senior appearances for the club and over 300 appearances in the Bundesliga– a club record at Hannover. Speaking of the Bundesliga, Cherundolo’s retirement will bring to an end the longest current top flight tenure of any player in that league. He is also the most capped international player for Hannover, having made 87 appearances for the United States during his time with Die Roten. Cherundolo has been club captain since the beginning of the 2010-2011 season.
Finally, there is one more distinction that Cherundolo will hold- the most underrated player ever to wear the red, white, and blue. Perhaps it was his quiet demeanor, perhaps it was- at 5’6″- that he was not physically imposing, perhaps it is that while other players were making the news for sleeping with their teammates wives, he wasn’t- who knows? What we do know is that he had an excellent career as a steady, smart, classy player and that had it not been for injuries he would have may have appeared in another World Cup, two more Gold Cups, and a Confederations Cup. Hannover 96 will be grateful to have him on their staff and we, as U.S. national team supporters were proud to have him wear our colors.
Gut gemacht, Herr Bürgermeister!