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'I know we are favourites, but it is one game, 90 minutes'

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: February 23, 2013

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ICHU laughs off the suggestion complacency might affect him tomorrow — insisting he's had to scrap his entire career.

There are fears Swansea City might underestimate League Two Bradford when the pair clash in the Capital One Cup final.

They are such overwhelming favourites, perhaps there is a danger Michael Laudrup's men might take their foot off the pedal thinking they can coast to victory.

But Michu stresses he has never had things easy.

"Nobody gave me a present in my career," said the forward. "I have had to fight for everything and I am happy here to do the same.

"I know we are favourites, but we are not going to change. We will try to keep the ball, create chances and take them.

"I know Bradford are League Two and we are Premier League but it is one game, 90 minutes."

The man who has become a household name was not always such a superstar.

He began his career at local side Real Oviedo, a club who have enjoyed an illustrious past, but was struggling in the Spanish lower leagues during Michu's time there.

The versatile attacker came through the youth ranks at Oviedo before featuring for a first team that bounced between the second, third and fourth tiers.

He then switched to Celta Vigo, another club with a rich past who had tumbled out of La Liga.

Michu played only a bit-part for Celta, scoring a modest 14 goals in over 100 appearances, many of which came from the bench.

A move to unfashionable Rayo Vallecano followed, a Madrid-based club that had reached the Spanish top flight despite being dwarfed by city rivals Real and Atletico.

There he netted 15 times to become La Liga's top scoring midfielder.

But football's big boys took little notice.

Swansea apparently faced little competition to sign the 26-year-old last summer and he moved to South Wales for a modest £2.2 million.

Premier League rivals have been kicking themselves ever since.

"I didn't know who was interested. I just knew Swansea wanted to sign me and I wanted to come here and I am very happy here," said Michu.

"I don't think I am the star. Yes, I have scored a lot of goals but I always say the same: If I score and we win, great, if we win and I do not score, great, but if I score and we lose then it is not good for me. No-one teases me about the profile, they are good about it.

"The Premier League is the best competition in the world, better than the Spanish league. For my game, the way I play, this league is good for me.

"The team has played well and has given me opportunity to play well. I think we deserve this final and deserve this title."

Michu's work ethic is there for all to see in the way he chases back and helps out defensively.

But it is his goalscoring exploits that have grabbed the headlines.

The lofty frontman has netted 18 times for Swansea and lies third in the race for this season's Premier League golden boot award.

His goals have been followed by a trademark celebration in which Michu waves a hand by his ear.

That was first produced in response to jeers from opposition supporters in Spain.

"I played for Celta against Granada in the first leg of the cup. I missed a penalty and all the stadium was laughing," remembers Michu.

"The next season I went with Rayo to Granada and when we were warming up the stadium was all laughing again, saying I should take another penalty.

"But I scored in the game and we won and when I scored nobody was laughing. It was quiet. It is too easy to laugh when you fall."

This time it is Bradford looking to triumph through adversity.

They arrive at Wembley 71 places beneath Swansea on the league ladder and aiming to spring one of the biggest shocks in cup history.

Michu admits he hadn't heard of the Bantams when he arrived in South Wales — but Swansea's No. 9 knows all about them now.

"The danger is that we only have 90 minutes and they can win," he said.

"I know we are favourites but in one game anything can happen.

"I watched two of Bradford's games but it's different because we are at Wembley. They are very strong at home, they played at Villa Park and lost. At Wembley we really are favourites but we remember it is only one game.

"We have been playing well and now we are somewhere where it can be historic for the club. For me it is historic too. It is the first final of my career and hopefully my first title too. I am very excited."

For some of Michu's team-mates it is a return to the sight of their greatest triumph.

Less than two years ago Swansea beat Reading in the Championship play-off final to reach the Premier League.

Victory tomorrow would top even that achievement.

"Everyone in Spain knows about the FA Cup but now also about this competition. We have a lot of supporters because of the Spanish players here," added Michu.

"I remember the Champions League final when Barcelona beat Manchester United.

"The chance to play at Wembley is perhaps the best moment in my career and the best in the history of the club."

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