Team 33 | USA captain Eric Lichaj talks ROI's Graham Burke, Ciaran Clark...

Nottingham Forest and former Aston Villa defender chats to Raf Diallo ahead of the friendly against Ireland

BY Raf Diallo 12:51 Friday 1 June 2018, 12:51 1 Jun 2018

This Saturday, the US national soccer team is playing Ireland in an international friendly at the Aviva Stadium.

Normally, this time of year, the US team are preparing for a World Cup. But for the first time since they last missed out in 1986, the USA will not be going to the tournament this summer.

But they have arrived in Dublin with an eye to the future, packing the squad with young talent and with 29 year old Nottingham Forest defender Eric Lichaj as captain.

Ahead of the Ireland match, Lichaj took time out to chat to me on Team 33 about his career with Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest, as well as the US national side.

You can listen back to the full interview with Eric Lichaj on the podcast player or stream/download on iTunes:    

But there's an unlikely familiar face that he will potentially face at the Aviva Stadium: Shamrock Rovers and Ireland's Graham Burke.

The two briefly played together at Aston Villa and were in the same side for a League Cup tie against Tranmere in late 2012.

"I actually do remember him. He was a quiet guy for sure but a good guy as well," he recalls.

"I think he went on loan to Notts County a couple of years ago as well because I'm at Nottingham Forest so I remember the name."

While Burke has broken into the Ireland squad whilst still in the League of Ireland, Lichaj added that the situation in the USA and Ireland are similar in that there is more experimentation with call-ups.

May 28, 2018 - Chester, PA, U.S. - CHESTER, PA - MAY 28: United States defender Eric Lichaj (15) dribbles the ball during the international friendly match between the United States and Bolivia at the Talen Energy Stadium on May 28, 2018 in Chester, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire) (Credit Image: � Robin Alam/Icon SMI via ZUMA Press)

"It's always good to give guys their chance with the national team and I know I'm appreciative of it even now at my age, so I know for the younger guys it's just part of their progression," he said.

Lichaj arrived at Aston Villa in 2007 as a young player, working his way from the reserves towards the first team and he only briefly crossed paths with Ireland manager Martin O'Neill who was manager there for a time.

But it's another Irishman in Newcastle and Boys in Green defender Ciaran Clark that also sticks out from Lichaj's time on trial with the club.

"It was a good 10 days of training, and I remember my last day we did a scrimmage and Ciaran Clark, I don't know if he's in the [Ireland] squad now, he put a huge challenge on me, messed up my knee and actually I'm thankful for it, because I was absolutely dead by that time as it was about 70 minutes in, so I was happy to come off," he said.

"I remember I was limping, went back to the US for two weeks but they told me that they were going to offer me a contract, so it was nice."   

In the full interview, he also spoke about scoring twice against Arsenal in the FA Cup back in January, including a famous volley, even getting to bring a dog home as a reward.

Recent interviews on Team 33 include former Man United cult hero Andrei Kanchelskis, ex-England international Carlton Palmer, former Newcastle and Everton left back Alessandro Pistone, Chelsea legends Bobby Tambling and Paddy Mulligan, Dutch legend Johan Neeskens, ex-England striker Darius Vassell, Liverpool legend David Fairclough, former Ireland midfielder Mark Kinsella and former Everton forward Tomasz Radzinski. Plus our in-depth chats with Tony CotonPackie BonnerNobby SolanoRon Atkinson and Alan Curbishley are still available on iTunes. You can find them all in one place by subscribing to Team 33 on iTunes.

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