By DAN KARELL
Steve Cherundolo pulled on the Hannover 96 uniform for one final time last Sunday as he was honored with a testimonial match for his service to the club.
Affectionately known as the “Mayor of Hannover,” Cherundolo was forced to call time on his career last March after repeated knee injuries curtailed his return to match fitness. However, while he currently serves as an assistant coach for the Hannover U-23s, the club’s reserve side, the club honored Cherundolo prior to their friendly match against Lazio with a 30-minute exhibition match, featuring some of Cherundolo’s former teammates and some local celebrities.
Cherundolo played for both the white and the red teams, switching at halftime, and scored once for the red team in the second half, as well as jokingly sending off one of his own teammates when he took the red card out of the referee’s pocket.
The 35-year-old, who was born in Rockford, Illinois and grew up in the San Diego, Calif. suburbs, left the University of Portland following his sophomore year to join Hannover in 1999, when they were still in the 2. Bundesliga. Three years later, they made the jump up to the Bundesliga and have remained there ever since.
Cherundolo finished his career with 415 appearances with Hannover in all competitions, and served as their captain from 2010 through his retirement.
Cherundolo was also a veteran for the U.S. Men’s National Team, making his debut against Jamaica in Sept. 1999 and playing a huge role for the USA over the rest of his career. He was a part of the 2002, 2006 and 2010 World Cup squads, and played in both the 2005 and 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cups.
In all, Cherundolo amassed 87 caps for the USMNT, his final match coming in a 3-1 victory against Guatemala in World Cup qualifying at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan.
Following the testimonial, Cherundolo gave a lap of honor as “Surfin’ USA” by the Beach Boys played over the PA system. The fans in attendance gave Cherundolo a standing ovation, and before finally exiting the field, he took his daughter out onto the field and posed for a group picture with his former teammates.
Here’s a look at the testimonial match:
What did you think of this match? Nice to see Cherundolo honored in that fashion? What are your favorite memories of him from his playing career?
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