Friday 3 April 2020

The conquistador that settled on the shores of Swansea

Eight years ago, a Spanish footballer by the name of Miguel Perez Cuesta - or Michu for short - arrived on the shores of south Wales. The rest, they say, is history.

Going into the 2012-13 Premier League season and Swansea City were tipped to struggle; following an impressive debut season in the top flight, head coach Brendan Rodgers had been snapped up by Liverpool along with Joe Allen, whilst loan star Gylfi Sigurdsson had left for Tottenham.

Gylfi Sigurdsson's move to Tottenham was labelled a
disaster by many Swansea fans.

The appointment of former Danish midfielder Michael Laudrup was a gamble given his lack of coaching experience in top leagues. But, nine months later and the Welsh side were League Cup champions and ninth-placed finishers in the Premier League. Whilst Laudrup deserves the majority of praise for the Swans' endeavours, one certain Spanish striker certainly made his job easier.
An unknown quantity, Michu had been the unsung hero for La Liga side Rayo Vallecano before joining Swansea. The striker - then operating as a midfielder - had netted 15 times in 37 appearances for the Spanish side, but he was to better that emphatically for the Swans. In just one season, the previously unheard of Michu, wrote his name into Welsh and Premier League football folklore.
There's debuts to remember and then there's the one enjoyed by Michu in his first appearance for Swansea in 2012. It took just eight minutes for the Spaniard to open his account for the season, placing a shot from outside the area. He went on to register an assist and a fantastic double, netting a first-time finesse in the second-half. A new four-year deal in January 2013 enabled chairman Huw Jenkins to warn off any would-be interest with a £30 million price tag slapped upon the striker's head.

Michu celebrates his first goal in Swansea colours.

22 goals in 43 appearances rounded off the season in perfect fashion as Michu took home the Swans' Player of the Year award. In recognition of his stellar season, the formidable forward earned his first cap for Spain in October 2013. It seemed as though everything was heading in the right direction. So, how come, just two years later, Michu found himself in the third Spanish division?
Well, injuries can ruin many a footballer's career, and, simply put, that is what plagued Michu's. Injury after injury made sure that he could never maintain an extended run in the Swansea side, and, April 2014 proved to be the last time the Spaniard donned the Swans' jersey. A loan move to Napoli and then a release from his contract in November 2015 saw Michu's time on British shores cut short.

Michu often cut a frustrated figure at Napoli.

The striker went home, joining Segunda B side UP Langreo before ending his career at boyhood club Real Oviedo. Forced to retire at just 31 because of the injuries he had sustained throughout his time in the sport, Michu took up the role of technical secretary at Real Oviedo where he still remains.

Of course, the way in which Michu ended his career on the south coast of Wales was inherently disappointing for all concerned, but the Spaniard helped Swansea win their first and only major trophy, something which will always make him a hero.
Injuries are part and parcel of sport and football especially, but the way in which they cut short the career of a player that had revolutionised a city of Wales was particularly cruel.
Perhaps there's never been a more befitting phrase of "one-season wonder" than that of Michu's in 2012-13, but what a season it was.

Michu was an integral part of the Swansea side
that lifted the League Cup in 2013.

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