Steve Cherundolo

A defender who starred in the U.S. national team for more than a decade and was among the best of the many American players to play for European clubs.

Cherundolo played 15 seasons in German professional leagues, all of them for Hannover 96, between 1999 and 2013. The last 12 of those seasons were in the first division, after he helped Hannover to gain promotion in the 2001-02 season. At the time of his retirement, he was the longest-serving player in the Bundesliga, and was Hannover’s all-time leader in Bundesliga appearances with 302. During his last four seasons with Hannover, he was the main captain of the team, a role that caused him to be nicknamed “The Mayor of Hannover” by American fans.

Cherundolo, who was elected in 2013 as the right back on the U.S. men’s national team All-Time Best XI, played 87 full internationals for the United States between 1999 and 2012. Those included 26 World Cup qualifiers in 2001, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2009 and 2012, and seven World Cup games in 2006 and 2010. In 2010, he played every minute of all four of the United States’ games at the World Cup. In addition to playing in the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, he also was a member of the United States squad at the 2002 World Cup.

Perhaps Cherundolo’s greatest moment in a U.S. uniform came in the United States’ game against Slovenia in the 2010 World Cup, when his long through pass down the right side sprung Landon Donovan loose to score a key goal. Usually, however, he was a stay-at-home defender, who scored only two goals in his 87 games for the United States and only seven in his 15 years with Hannover. His value to the USMNT may have been displayed most sharply at the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup final against Mexico, when the U.S. lost, 4-2, after having led by 2-0 when Cherundolo had to be replaced because of an injury.