Tall and quick striker Caleb Colman Folan started his career in the youth ranks at Leeds United and signed professional terms in 2001. He first played for Hull City in December 2001 during a one month loan spell that yielded a solitary substitute appearance. When he returned to City in 2007 he was an established goalscorer with Premier League experience at Wigan. Caleb had just played for the Latics against City in a League Cup tie during August 2007, showing form to convince manager Phil Brown and chairman Paul Duffen that he should became City’s first ever £1 million pound footballer. Caleb made his second City debut in early September against Blackpool, a bang on the head curtailing his night, but he returned for the next two fixtures in mid September. Injury kept Folan out of the first team until late November, by which time Manchester United tyro Fraizer Campbell had been signed on loan and sparked an immediate partnership with veteran Dean Windass. Folan was often the third striker in the squad but proved an effective force with goals off the bench and starting when Dean or Fraizer were not available. Folan scored his first City goal in a December 2007 2-0 in over Leicester and he added three more goals in the early weeks of 2008 against Stoke, Coventry and Blackpool as the Tigers climbed the Championship table. In late February 2008 Caleb scored the winner in a 2-1 victory over table-topping West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns, a match seen by many City fans as the real turning point for a squad that changed from plucky mid-tablers to promotion candidates. A run of wins followed, Folan scoring a goal off the bench in three consecutive matches against Colchester, Leicester and Watford in late March. City qualified for the play-offs and after a fine first leg victory over Watford at Vicarage Lane, matters were on a knife edge in the second leg at the KC Stadium at 1-1 when Folan came off the bench and scored City’s second goal that precipitated one of the stadium’s loudest roars in its history (slightly ahead of the din that welcomed Nick Barmby’s equaliser twenty or so minutes earlier). Folan was a late substitute in the play-off final win against Bristol City made famous by Dean Windass’s strike, meaning he returned to the Premier League he had left nine months earlier.
A sunny August afternoon welcomed the Tigers to their first ever Premier League fixture at home to Fulham, a match that City won thanks to a second half goal swept in at the back post by substitute Folan after Craig Fagan picked the pocket of hapless Fulham full back Paul Konchesky – Caleb’s place in City folklore was thus further reinforced less than a year after he re-signed for the club. Folan was a bench player as City signed Marlon King and Daniel Cousin, forwards that propelled the Tigers to the top of the table by late October. But when serial wrong ‘un King left the club and results started to dip, Folan was a loyal support act off the bench as City narrowly avoided relegation. At the start of the 2009/10 season Caleb was restored to the first choice centre forward role for four games before he fell out with manager Phil Brown and was loaned to Middlesbrough. When Brown was replaced by Iain Dowie in March 2010 with City haunted by the threat of relegation, Folan returned to the first team and scored twice in an unfortunate 2-3 defeat at Portsmouth. However that brief resurgence quickly faded and City returned to the Championship.
With City now managed by taciturn Nigel Pearson, Folan’s early season chances for first team action were hampered by injuries. After two starts and a sub appearance in October 2010 Caleb fell out of favour and left the club in March 2011. While on paper his record at Hull City was mixed – 33 starts, 31 substitute appearances and 12 goals in four years – his importance to the club as its first seven figure footballer in 2007 and the scorer of pivotal goals in the play-offs and Premier League in 2008 mean that Caleb Folan is regarded warmly by many City supporters.
Caleb Folan came through the ranks at Leeds United in the early 2000s but never played a first team game and left the club in 2003 to join Chesterfield. He had issues with injuries and form during much of his time at Saltergate but when he was available he did score goals – six in 2004/05 and 12 in 2006/07. A knee operation in 2006 cleared a recurring problem and kickstarted his career, when he left Chesterfield in January 2007 Folan had made 110 appearances – 47 off the bench – and scored 19 goals. He joined Premier League Wigan Athletic for a £500,000 fee and quickly scored top flight goals against Watford and Manchester City, but by August 2007 he was on the fringes of the first team when he signed for the Tigers.
On leaving City in 2011 Folan then spent the next four years touring the world to ply his trade. He joined MLS side Colorado Rapids in March 2011 where he scored an impressive sixteen goals in 28 starts during his only season in the USA as the Rapids won the MLS title and earned a meeting with President Barrack Obama at the White House. A return to the Football League with Birmingham in early 2012 was short-lived and yielded no senior appearances as a nerve injury kept him out of the game for nine months. In December 2012 he joined George Boateng in Malaysia to played for T-Team, making ten appearances for the Malaysian Super League side based in Kuaka Terengganu. He returned to England in March 2013 and in September he signed for Bradford City where he made six appearances in three months. He then concluded his career at Burmese League side Shan United and Trinidadian side Central FC, the latter team was managed by ex-Premier League Stern John. Following retirement in 2017 Folan qualified in sports massage therapy and set up his massage clinic from a central Leeds base.
Folan’s maternal grandparents hailed from Galway in Ireland, and in March 2007 he first received interest from the Republic of Ireland international squad. He eventually made his international debut in October 2008 in a World Cup qualifying match against Cyprus after impressing and scoring in a B team game. Further caps came in November 2008 against Poland, April 2009 against Italy and June 2009 against Bulgaria. By the end of 2009 he had amassed seven international caps.
Date/Place of Birth: 26 October 1982, Leeds
Hull City First Game: 1 December 2001, Oxford United H (League Division 3), 19 years, 36 days old
Hull City Final Game: 30 October 2010, Barnsley A (Championship), 28 years, 4 days old
Leeds United (2000-2003), Rushden & Diamonds (2001, loan), Hull City (2001, loan), Chesterfield (2003-2007), Wigan Athletic (2007), Hull City (2007-2011), Middlesbrough (2009, loan), Colorado Rapids (2011), Birmingham City (2012), T-Team (2012-2013), Bradford City (2013), Shan United (2014-2015), Central FC (2017)
Hull City Record
Career: 65 apps, 12 goalsCaleb Folan
|2007/08||18 (11)||8||1 (0)||0||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|2008/09||2 (13)||1||2 (2)||0||1 (0)||0||-||-||-||-|