Lichaj with Nottingham Forest in 2016
|Full name||Eric Joseph Lichaj|
|Date of birth||November 17, 1988|
|Place of birth||Downers Grove, Illinois, United States|
|Height||5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)|
|2006||North Carolina Tar Heels||0||(0)|
|2006||Chicago Fire Premier||4||(0)|
|2009||→ Lincoln City (loan)||6||(0)|
|2010||→ Leyton Orient (loan)||9||(1)|
|2011||→ Leeds United (loan)||16||(0)|
|2003–2005||United States U17||25||(0)|
|2006||United States U20||2||(0)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of May 7, 2017.
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of July 19, 2017
Eric Joseph Lichaj (// LEE-hy; born November 17, 1988) is an American soccer player who plays for Nottingham Forest in the Championship and for the United States national team. He started his youth career playing for Chicago Fire's youth side and participated in the national team residency program at IMG Academy. He later played college soccer for the North Carolina Tar Heels. After playing one year at the University of North Carolina, Lichaj left America to sign with Aston Villa in the Premier League.
Eric Lichaj was born as the third son of Stan and Ann Lichaj, both from Nowy Targ, Poland. He also has two older brothers, Andrew and Mark Lichaj. He joined the soccer residency program at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida at the age of 14. He began his youth career with the Downers Grove Roadrunners, later playing with Chicago Fire's youth side, and then spent one year at the University of North Carolina. He also played four games for the Chicago Fire Premier of the USL Premier Development League. After his freshman season, he signed with Aston Villa of England's Premier League. Lichaj holds a Polish passport, making a work permit unnecessary.
Following a season in the Aston Villa youth side, Lichaj featured in all but two of Villa's Reserve matches during the 2008–09 season. During the 2009–10 preseason, he was selected in the squad for the 2009 Peace Cup and showed glimpses of his potential during the friendly tournament. However, this did not immediately translate into playing time for the first team.
Lichaj was loaned out to League Two club Lincoln City to gain first-team experience. He played two games for City before signing a one-month loan extension. Later in the season, Lichaj again went on a month-long loan, that time to League One side Leyton Orient. He scored the first professional goal of his career for Leyton Orient against Stockport County on April 17, 2010.
Lichaj scored his first goal for Aston Villa on July 19, 2010, in a pre-season friendly against Peterborough United. Following a successful pre-season campaign, he signed a new three-year contract with the club on August 11, 2010. He made his competitive debut for Villa on August 19, 2010, in a 1–1 draw in a Europa League qualifying match away to Rapid Vienna. He made his Premier League debut for the Villans on November 10, 2010 against Blackpool. Lichaj made his first start for Aston Villa on December 11, 2010 in a 2–1 win against local rivals West Bromwich Albion. He also started for Villa at right back against Tottenham Hotspur where he put in an impressive performance against in-form Spurs winger Gareth Bale.
Leeds United (loan)
On February 9, 2011, Lichaj joined Leeds United on a one-month loan deal. Lichaj made his Leeds début in a 2–0 victory against Bristol City. On March 14, Leeds extended Lichaj's loan for the rest of the season. He scored an own goal in Leeds' match against Yorkshire rivals Sheffield United who went on to win the match 2–0. After playing all his games at right back in place of the injured Paul Connolly, Lichaj was moved to left back when George McCartney was out injured. On May 9, Lichaj played the last game of his Leeds United loan spell in Leeds' 2–1 over Queens Park Rangers. Leeds announced on their official website that Lichaj would be returning to his parent club Aston Villa at the end of his loan spell. After his loan expired, Lichaj revealed that he would like to rejoin Leeds the following season to help them earn promotion to the Premier League.
Back at Villa
After impressing during his loan spell, in July 2011 Leeds manager Simon Grayson revealed he was interested in re-signing Lichaj on loan, as long as new Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish didn't see Lichaj in his first team plans. However, Lichaj went on to score his first goal for Aston Villa in their 2–0 win over Hereford in the League Cup on August 23, 2011. On March 31, 2012, having already assisted Villa's first goal by throwing the ball long for James Collins to score from a header, Lichaj scored his first Premier League goal in a 4–2 defeat at home to Chelsea. After the 2012–13 Premier League season, Aston Villa decided not to renew Lichaj's contract, releasing him on a free transfer.
Lichaj signed a two-year deal with Championship club Nottingham Forest on June 19, 2013. He made his debut in a 1–0 win against Huddersfield Town on the opening day of the season. In December 2014, he extended his deal until the summer of 2017. On October 20, 2015 Lichaj scored his first Nottingham Forest goal in a 1–1 draw with Burnley at the City Ground. Lichaj captained Forest for the first time on September 27, 2016 for a home game against Fulham and scored his second goal for the club in his next home game, opening the scoring in a 3–1 win over Birmingham City.
Following the sale of Henri Lansbury in January 2017 and the continued absence of regular captains such as Chris Cohen and Matt Mills, Lichaj continued to captain the side. He explained to local newspaper the Nottingham Post that he took "great pride" in the captaincy, and that he had retained the armband from his first match as captain. At the end of the 2016–17 season Lichaj was named Forest's Player of the Year by the club's fans, receiving over 40% of the vote.
Lichaj has been involved with various U.S. youth teams. He helped his country qualify for the 2005 FIFA U-17 World Championship. He was also named in the United States U-20 squad for the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup, although he missed out due to injury. He was called into the senior team as a "guest" for the camp preceding two World Cup qualifiers in June 2009. Lichaj received his first call-up to the United States senior team in October 2010 and was included in the squad for the friendlies against Poland and Colombia. Lichaj collected his first cap on October 12, 2010 in the friendly against Colombia. On November 17, 2010, Lichaj gained his second cap when he started for the U.S. against South Africa. On March 21, 2011, Lichaj received a call up to the U.S. national side for the games against Argentina and Paraguay. He was named in his nation's 2011 Gold Cup squad. After sitting on the bench for the first two Gold Cup matches, Lichaj played all 90 minutes of the last four, including the 4–2 loss in the final against Mexico.
In 2013, Lichaj returned to international duty after a two-year absence, making two substitute appearances for the U.S. against Scotland and Austria in November. In May 2016, Lichaj was again recalled by the U..S, as part of the preliminary Copa América Centenario roster, and for a friendly match against Puerto Rico. Lichaj made a substitute appearance in the match against Puerto Rico. On July 19, 2017, Lichaj scored his first international goal on an assist from Clint Dempsey in the first half (45" + 2) in the Gold Cup quarterfinal against El Salvador.
- As of match played May 7, 2017
|Club||Season||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Other||Total|
|Aston Villa||2008–09||Premier League||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Lincoln City (loan)||2009–10||League Two||6||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||6||0|
|Leyton Orient (loan)||2009–10||League One||9||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||9||1|
|Leeds United (loan)||2010–11||Championship||16||0||0||0||0||0||—||16||0|
- Appearance in UEFA Europa League
- As of July 19, 2017
- Scores and results list the United States' goal tally first.
|1.||July 19, 2017||Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, United States||El Salvador||2–0||2–0||2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup|
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- "Games played by Eric Lichaj in 2011/2012". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved February 11, 2014.
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