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American Exports: Longtime Hannover, USMNT mainstay Steve Cherundolo officially retires

Steve Cherundolo with Hannover

Photo Credit: 
Getty Images

AMSTERDAM – Hannover 96 captain Steve Cherundolo has officially hung up his playing boots with the only professional club he ever called home, joining the club's reserve coaching staff.

Cherundolo – otherwise known locally as "The Mayor of Hannover" – announced his retirement in a press conference on Wednesday after a club-record 302 Bundesliga contests.

"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."

The 35-year-old will now immediately join the coaching staff of the U-23 team, Hannover II; he plans to pursue the final three German coaching badges (needed to work at the professional level) when the season ends. Club president Martin Kind, speaking at the press conference, praised Cherundolo's commitment to the club.

"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."

Across all competitions, Cherundolo notched eight goals and 22 assists in 415 total games for Hannover, a team he joined in 1999 after two years of collegiate soccer at the University of Portland.

Named to the US roster for the last three World Cups, Cherundolo was a starter in both 2006 and 2010, playing the last seven World Cup matches for the US at right back. He also played for the US in three Gold Cup tournaments, including the 2005 championship, and the 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup. He was also named to U.S. Soccer's All-Time Best XI last December.

He was a regular in the current World Cup qualifying cycle through the semifinal round in fall 2012, making his final appearance for the US in the Oct. 16, 2012 victory over Guatemala that secured passage to the CONCACAF Hexagonal. Cherundolo ends his international career with 87 caps, including 83 starts, and two goals. He was a finalist for US Soccer Player of the Year in both 2010 and 2011.

Born in Rockford, Ill., Cherundolo grew up in San Diego and played two years of collegiate soccer at the University of Portland in 1997-98.