American defender Steve Cherundolo, nicknamed “Mayor of Hannover” during a 15-year career that saw him play for just one club and rise to become Hannover’s captain, is retiring because of persistent knee injuries.
Cherundolo said Wednesday that several knee injuries in the last 15 months made it impossible to continue playing and that he was becoming assistant coach of Hannover’s under-23 team.
The 35-year-old right back, a member of the U.S. team at the 2002, 2006 and 2010 World Cup, played a in club-record 302 Bundesliga games for Hannover.
Cherundolo had left knee surgery in February, returned for five games in April and May, then had another knee operation in August. He appeared in just two games for Hannover this season: He was a 90th-minute substitute against Frankfurt on Dec. 1 and started and played until the 80th minute at Freiburg on Dec. 21.
A San Diego native, Cherundolo played two seasons at the University of Portland and signed with Hannover during the 1998-99 season, when the club was in the German second division. He scored eight goals in 423 games for Hannover overall, including six goals in the Bundesliga.
He had two goals in 87 appearances for the U.S.: in a 4-1 exhibition loss at Germany in March 2006 and in a 1-0 exhibition victory at South Africa in November 2007. He was part of the American team that won the 2005 CONCACAF Gold Cup.