It’s only been 13 months since former U.S. national team and Hannover 96 defender Steve Cherundolo officially retired from professional soccer, thanks to a long-term knee injury.
Yet, one year after taking a coaching role with the German Bundesliga club’s U-15 team, the 36-year-old American has been promoted to assistant manager of the first team.
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Cherundolo’s promotion comes at a very unstable time for Hannover, as the club currently sits in 15th, two points clear of the relegation playoff place in 16th, following a 13-game winless streak in league play. That brought about the firing of former manager Tayfun Korkut on Monday.
As Korkut went, so went most of the first-team coaching staff, leaving the club little time to fill the position of Michael Frontzeck’s assistant, thus choosing to promote from within.
If anyone at the club can light a fire under the player, it’s Cherundolo, who was nicknamed the “Mayor of Hannover” by the fans for his 16 years of service to the club, including helping Hannover gain promotion to the top division in 2022, where they have been ever since, and his five years as club captain.
Cherundolo’s fast rise through Hannover’s ranks, no matter the circumstances, will surely grab the attention of USMNT fans speculating over the future of the national team’s head coaching job after the current boss, who has plenty of German ties himself, presumably moves on after the 2018 World Cup. Perhaps it’s a bit soon to anoint Cherundolo “the chosen one” now, but Monday’s promotion already makes him the highest-profile American coach in world soccer at this time.