U.S. defender Cherundolo retires

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Updated: 3/19 12:44 pm

Chicago, IL (SportsNetwork.com) - U.S. national team and Hannover 96 defender Steve Cherundolo announced his retirement from professional football on Wednesday.

"Because of several knee injuries in the past 15 months, I have to stop my career as a professional footballer today," Cherundolo said at a press conference.

"I have been allowed since 1999 to be with Hannover 96, a club that has made incredible sporting and economic progress. But at the same time it has not lost its heart and soul -- namely, the fans. I am thrilled about further involvement in the club, and I will try to give back everything that I have learned as a professional football player and man at Hannover 96. Thank you very much."

Cherundolo, 35, was a mainstay in defense for the U.S. in the 2002, 2006 and 2010 World Cups and has been club captain at Hannover after a glittering 15- year career in the German Bundesliga.

Cherundolo has battled persistent knee problems which have forced him to miss most of the 2013-14 season and will see him unable to make a surge to Jurgen Klinsmann's 2014 World Cup squad.

His last appearance for the national team came in a 3-1 World Cup qualifying win vs. Guatemala in October 2012.

In all, Cherundolo has made 87 appearances for the U.S. national team since making his debut vs. Jamaica back in 1999, and the long-time right back for the Stars & Stripes is a lock to be added to the U.S. soccer Hall of Fame in the coming years.

He will immediately join the coaching staff for Hannover's Under-23 squad.

"I have seen Steven Cherundolo in his previous 15 years at Hannover 96 as a model professional and responsible and strong character," said Hannover president Martin Kind.

"His career at 96 is marked with unprecedented success and of exceptional club loyalty: promotion to the Bundesliga, the club's establishment in the Bundesliga, and ultimately with him as a team captain, twice participating in the Europa League. It is a pity that we will no longer see Stevie in the Bundesliga in the 96 jersey. Therefore, I am all the more happier that he will remain at 96 to pass on his wealth of experience."

Across all competitions, Cherundolo notched eight goals and 22 assists in 415 total games for Hannover, a team he joined in 1999 after two years of collegiate soccer at the University of Portland.

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