NSC pal Harris King has come along to celebrate an oft-underappreciated American Abroad...
This past weekend against Bayern Munich, Steve Cherundolo appeared in his 366th league game for Hannover 96, with 298 of those matches being at Germany’s highest level. The appearance ties him with Jürgen Bandura as Hannover’s “Rekordspieler” in the Bundesliga, a tie he will more than likely break when die Roten travel to Franconia for a Friday night tilt against Greuther Fürth.
Cherundolo first arrived in Hannover in January of 1999 as a 19-year-old from the University of Portland and in the 14 years since he has become to be known as a the “Mayor of Hannover” among his American fans while solidifying himself as a hero for the club he has devoted almost all of his adult life to. Before the game against Bayern, two articles appeared marking the momentous occasion. One was on the club’s website, with the other appearing in the local paper. Below, I translate some of the highlights that leave me in awe when thinking back on the 14 seasons I have been following his career.
Bandura, who played his last game on April 20, 1974, on the occasion: “When I set the record, Cherundolo wasn’t even born yet …That it is Cherundolo who is passing me, that makes me happy …He is one who always puts the team first.” [HAZ]
Cherundolo on Bandura after their first ever meeting: “We chatted a bit and took a few pictures together. He is a nice and open person, a many-faceted player who also was a team player.” [H96]
Cherundolo on why he made the move overseas: “I didn’t hesitate and said this is something I have to do, although my parents were against it.” [H96]
Cherundolo on his arrival: “On top of everything, it was very cold and there was about a half of meter of snow on the ground.” [H96]
Cherundolo on Hannover today as compared to when he first arrived: “Except for a couple of people, such as Martin Kind and Jörg Stievers, everything has changed. The stadium, the training grounds and mostly how 96 is viewed from the outside – it is all positive.”
Cherundolo on his ups and downs: “Each player in the team has a task he has to take care of that is not always recognized from the outside. You just have to have thick skin. That is a lesson I learned as a young player. It is important to not focus on the judgments from outside, but instead on that the team is successful.” [H96]
Cherundolo on his role in the team: “My role is to work hard and win challenges so that the team is successful …I have learned that I, for the most part, am not going to get a rating of 1 …Sometimes you just have to have a thick skin [grinning]” [HAZ]
Cherundolo on his length of stay at Hannover: “The contracts just aren’t as respected today. That has to do with the entire business of soccer. Things simply move faster and players come and go more.” [H96]
Cherundolo, who is in the last year of his contract, on his future: “I extended my last contract in 2010 after the World Cup, and I am not worried about this situation now …I have an amazing amount of gratitude for the club and for the fans. And I am presently building a house [in Hannover]. That speaks for itself.” [H96]
- Harris King