Fewer players have served the Hannover 96 cause more faithfully down the years than Steven Cherundolo. A native of Rockford, Illinois, Cherundolo grew up in San Diego and signed on with Hannover, then in Bundesliga 2, back in 1999 after a couple of years playing at college level for the University of Portland. He has been with the Lower Saxony outfit ever since.
His early progress in the German game was interrupted by a knee injury, but by 2001/02 Cherundolo was Hannover's undisputed number one choice at right back and played an instrumental role in the Reds' successful promotion drive that season. Already an established US international, he became a back-row mainstay as the club battled to establish themselves in the top flight over the next few years. In 2005 he turned down the opportunity to move to Premier League side Bolton Wanderers, opting to remain in a city, and league, where he evidently feels very much at home.
After more than one close encounter with relegation and in the wake of a particularly testing campaign in 2009-10, Hannover turned their fortunes around in spectacular fashion. Having matured into an onfield leader over the years, Cherundolo was given the captain's armband in the summer of 2010 by head coach Mirko Slomka following the departure of Hanno Balitsch to Leverkusen. The 96ers went on to enjoy their best-ever season in the top flight, finishing fourth and qualifying for Europe. In 2011/12, they again made the cut for the Europa League and Cherundolo, now one of the veterans in the side, remains an integral part of Slomka's plans going forward. And the "Mayor of Hannover" fully intends to keep racking up the shifts for some time to come with his one and only professional club.