The first winter departure has been confirmed. Rafael Czichos has left 1. FC Köln. FC’s vice-captain will fulfil a long-term dream and will move to the USA. The 31-year-old will be part of the Chicago Fire set-up for the new Major League Soccer season, which starts at the end of February.
Rafael Czichos said, “Saying goodbye to Köln is not easy after three-and-a-half emotional and successful years at FC. The promotion in 2019 was something quite special for me. To play in the Bundesliga after the journey I had been on in professional football was not a given. Therefore, I am very proud and thankful for this time. As the offer from the USA came in, I decided to make a dream come true and move to the US for the next three years. I am really looking forward to the new challenge, although I have very much enjoyed working with the team and coach over the past six months. With Steffen Baumgart, we have played the best Hinrunde since I’ve been here. I hope that the coach and the team continue on as they have been, and I will continue to follow the FC games despite the time difference.”
FC head coach Steffen Baumgart said, “In Rafa, we are losing an absolute key player. In the six months I’ve been here, he was an important point of contact for me on and off the pitch. That’s why he was also one of the key figures in a sporting sense. He is a straight-down-the-line, open guy with top character. You never like to see those types go. Rafa’s decision, to go down this path, is one that I accept with huge respect. It is a brae step and I was him only the best for his future in Chicago.”
Jörg Jakobs, sporting director, said: “To lose a leader and one of the most important players during a season is not a scenario that you wish to find yourself in. However, Rafa has made a decision and this is one which he clearly communicated to us and we don’t want to stand in his way. His time at FC wasn’t always easy, especially after his serious injury against Hertha. It was very impressive how he battled back from that. Looking back, it was very successful. In every season and under every coach, he has developed himself further, was a starter and key to our team. For that, we want to say a big thanks. We wish him all the very best for the rest of his career.”
Rafael Czichos joined FC in summer 2018 from Holstein Kiel. The centre-back made 111 appearances in red and white, featuring 32 times (two goals, two assists) and playing a key role in promotion back to the Bundesliga in 2019. On 17th August 2019, Czichos made his Bundesliga debut in the first game of the season against VfL Wolfsburg. Overall, the 31-year-old played 71 Bundesliga matches (two goals, three assists) for FC. In May, he scored a fantastic half-volley to help FC remain in the Bundesliga with a 5:1 win in Kiel.