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U.S. great Steve Cherundolo announces his retirement

Steve Cherundolo In one of his landmark performances with the USA, Steve Cherundolo got the best of England's James Milner in the 2010 World Cup. (Ian Walton/Getty Images)

The Mayor of Hannover is hanging up his cleats.

U.S. right back Steve Cherundolo, a three-time World Cup veteran, member of U.S. Soccer's all-time best XI and captain of Bundesliga club Hannover, announced his retirement Wednesday, closing the door on one of the most illustrious careers by an American, ever.

A model of consistency and professionalism, Cherundolo amassed 87 caps with the United States and played the entirety of his 15-year career with Hannover in Germany, where he became a fan favorite and earned his laudatory nickname. Injuries hampered Cherundolo, 35, over the last 15 months, which accelerated his retirement. 

He attempted to come back multiple times over the last year after underdoing arthroscopic knee surgery in February 2013, but two more procedures later in the year provided roadblocks to a smooth recovery, and he was never able to get back on stable ground to continue his career as planned.

Cherundolo last played on Dec. 21 against SC Freiburg. He never reached the UEFA Champions League, but he did appear in the Europa League with Hannover in 2011-12 and 2012-13. Overall, Cherundolo is Hannover's all-time leader in Bundesliga appearances (302). He is not straying far from Hannover in his post-playing career, as he'll remain with the club in a coaching capacity, assisting U-23 coach Soren Osterland, according to the club's official website.

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With the U.S., his final appearance came at the end of the semifinal round of World Cup qualifying, starting in the USA's 3-1 win over Guatemala on Oct. 16, 2012, at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan., a win that cemented the Americans' place in the CONCACAF Hexagonal.

He keyed the USA's bounce-back performance against Jamaica a month before, with the Americans reeling from a loss in Kingston that threatened their place in the Hex. On the 11-year anniversary of Sept. 11 amid an emotional atmosphere in Columbus, Cherundolo turned in a masterclass, combining with Graham Zusi to overwhelm the Reggae Boyz on the right side of the field and help the Americans get back on track.

Cherundolo's absence since the semifinal round has been felt in a big way, with the revolving door to fill his role at right back continuing to spin even with the 2014 World Cup on the horizon. Never one to command the spotlight, but always one to be counted on to maraud up the flank and defend admirably, Cherundolo was one of the top U.S. performers in the 2010 World Cup and has his place in U.S. lore after being voted to the all-time Best XI a day before what turned out to be his final game as a professional.

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