Hanover - For more than twelve and a half years Steven Cherundolo has been lacing up his boots for Hannover 96. The experienced USA international is one of a rare breed in the contemporary game, having spent his entire professional career with the 96ers since departing the States in 1998.
The 1-1 draw against champions Borussia Dortmund was the right back's 287th Bundesliga appearance for Hannover. Added to 68 Bundesliga 2 outings, 22 in the DFB Cup and twelve more in the UEFA Europa League, that makes for a degree of loyalty that has long established Cherundolo as a firm favourite wih followers of the Reds.
The 33-year-old San Diego native spoke in interview with bundesliga.com after the game against Dortmund about a pulsating contest, his pride in being skipper and the "bit of luck" necessary for the 96ers to make the big step up to the UEFA Champions League.
bundesliga.com: Steven Cherundolo, a year ago on Matchday 6 Hannover handed Dortmund what would prove to be their final defeat of the 2011/12 Bundesliga season. Today it ended 1-1. How would you assess the match?
Steven Cherundolo: I think the fans got to see a great game. We performed incredibly well, especially in the second half and we rarely let Dortmund's hard work come to fruition. We really earned a point today. It was important too because all the teams behind us won this weekend and we managed to keep ourselves ahead of them.
bundesliga.com: A 1-1 draw against the champions, coming from a goal behind and creating a good few chances, aboveal in the seond half - was this Hannover 96's best performance of the season so far?
Cherundolo: I wouldn't go as far as that, but it's a huge compliment to the squad, especially after having played on Thursday. I'm proud to be the captain of this team.
bundesliga.com: So what lies ahead for Hannover 96?
Cherundolo: We've shown we can go toe-to-toe with the current German champions. Being in fifth place after seven matchdays is not bad at all, even if the standings don't count for much at this early stage of the season. We want to cement our place at the top. So far that's going well for us.
bundesliga.com: After competing in the UEFA Europa League in back-to-back seasons what do Hannover have to do to make the top four, and with it the UEFA Champions League?
Cherundolo: We need to earn more points away from home than we did last season. On top of that, of course, you need a bit of luck here and there as well.
bundesliga.com: Having scored a late equaliser it seemed as if Hannover took the pace out of the game somewhat, despite seemingly having Dortmund increasingly on the back foot. Shouldn't you have kept pushing for a second goal?
Cherundolo: Sometimes you have to acknowledge that it's alright to settle for a point. The best example is Werder Bremen, who played here a few weeks ago. They went 2-0 down, got themselves back on level terms and kept pushing forward. In the end they lost that match 3-2 and departed empty-handed.
Interview by Jürgen Blöhs