USA full back Eric Lichaj (Leee-hai) was signed by Nigel Adkins early in the 2018 summer break following his contract expiry at Nottingham Forest. Lichaj’s reputation was a talismanic and hard working figurehead and he slotted straight into the right back position until a late Autumn injury saw him drop out of the team and spend winter on the bench. He returned to first team action and performed with power, versatility and skill. At the start of the 2019/20 season Lichaj was handed the captain’s armband by new boss Grant McCann and he turned in consistent performances in both the right back and left back positions, though injuries again halted his first team exposure in early 2020. When the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the end of the season Lichaj was unable to agree a contract extension and left the club on expiry of his current deal at the end of June 2020.
Born and raised in Illinois to parents that both hailed from Poland, Eric Joseph Lichaj joined the IMG Football Academy in Florida at the age of 14 before spending time with the youth teams at North Carolina Tar Heels, while spending a year at the University of North Carolina. In July 2007 Lichaj moved to England and signed for Aston Villa, his Polish passport giving him dual residency and avoiding any work permit issues. He worked his way through the ranks at Villa Park and made his senior debut in October 2009 while on loan at League 2 side Lincoln City. Despite being red carded in his second game for the Imps Lichaj went on to make six appearances in two months. He returned to Villa in December 2009 and had a second loan spell of the season at League 1 side Leyton Orient between March and May 2010, making 9 appearances and scoring his first senior goal against Stockport County in April 2010.
Lichaj made his Aston Villa debut in an August 2010 Europa League tie against Rapid Vienna and made his Premier League debut three months later against Blackpool. In February 2011 he was loaned to Championship side Leeds United for the remainder of the season, making 16 appearances. For the next two seasons Lichaj remained on the fringes of the Villa first team squad, taking his tally to 42 appearances and 2 goals before being released in the 2013 close season. In July 2013 he signed for Championship side Nottingham Forest on a free transfer and quickly established himself as a first team regular at the City Ground. In five seasons at Forest Lichaj scored six goals in 190 senior appearances, two of those goals coming in a notable January 2018 FA Cup tie victory over Premier League side Arsenal. Eric signed for Hull City in July 2018 on expiry of his Forest contract,
In September 2020 Lichaj signed for newly promoted Turkish Superliga side Fatih Karagumruk and made his debut a few days later in a Super Lig match against Yeni Malatyaspor. However he was released in January 2021 after just twelve appearances after suffering a hip injury. Eric returned to England and after a short spell with the Under-23s coaching staff at Nottingham Forest he was appointed Under-19 Head Coach at US Major Soccer League side FC Cincinnati in March 2022.
Lichaj won youth caps for USA at under-17 and under-20 levels. He made his USA mens’ national team debut in October 2010 against Colombia and remained in the international picture for eight years, representing his country in the finals of the 2011 and 2017 Gold Cup – he played in the 2011 Gold Cup final won by Mexico. He scored his only international goal in July 2017 against El Salvador and won the last of his 16 caps in September 2018 against Mexico, his only international apperance while on Hull City’s books.
Date/Place of Birth: 17 November 1988, Downers Grove (USA)
Hull City First Game: 6 August 2018, Aston Villa H (Championship), 29 years, 262 days old
Hull City Final Game: 8 February 2020, Reading A (Championship), 31 years, 83 days old
Chicago Fire (2006-2007), Aston Villa (2007-2013), Lincoln City (2009, loan), Leyton Orient (2010, loan), Leeds United (2011, loan), Nottingham Forest (2013-2018), Hull City (2018-2020), Fatih Karagumruk (2020-2021)
Hull City Record
Career: 70 apps, 0 goalsEric Lichaj
|2018/19||35 (4)||0||1 (0)||0||–||–||–||–||–||–|
|2019/20||29 (0)||0||1 (0)||0||–||–||–||–||–||–|