As first reported by Soccer By Ives, Bundesliga club Hannover 96 honored their former captain and American international Steve Cherundolo last weekend with a friendly testimonial match featuring celebrities and other retired Hannover stars.
Cherundolo retired in March following multiple knee surgeries that proved too much for the 35 year old right back to overcome. American fans had held out hope until the very last that he might be able to return in time for the World Cup, but it was not to be. He was on the roster for both 2006 and 2010, and only missed 2002 due to a late injury suffered in training.
Perhaps due to his humble nature, it seemed Cherundolo never received quite enough respect from American fans for his prolific career in Europe. He was a consistent starter for Hannover, mostly in the Bundesliga, for well over a decade. Not only that, but he was named team captain in 2010 and was affectionately called “The Mayor of Hannover” by the club’s fans.
In a classy show of respect, Hannover held the friendly match to honor their longtime captain, who now serves as Assistant Coach of Hannover’s U-23 side. He scored in the second half, and jokingly pulled a red card from the referees pocket to send off one of his former teammates.
Cheers arose from the fans each time the defender touched the ball, and he took a victory lap around the field after the match with the Beach Boys’ classic ‘Surfin USA’ blaring over the speakers.
I’m happy to take one more chance to sing the praises of the former US international as well. He’s a high class guy who’s been a great ambassador for the American game in Europe. Despite never being the goal scoring superstar, he’ll hold the right back spot on the USMNT All-time Best XI for the foreseeable future (apologies to DeAndre Yedlin!).
Here’s the video of the testimonial match: