A FORMER cult hero of the Premier League who was idolised by Erling Haaland now looks completely unrecognisable after losing his iconic long hair.
This attacker went from unknown to international footballer following his big move to the English top-flight in 2012.
The now 37-year-old’s story started with boyhood club Real Oviedo in the Spanish lower leagues.
Aged 21, the 6ft 1in ace moved to the Spanish second tier with Celta Vigo.
After four seasons at Celta a transfer to LaLiga beckoned, with Rayo Vallecano taking a punt on him, and it paid off as he bagged 15 goals in his debut top tier campaign.
His form would earn him his move to the Premier League, with a £2million transfer to Swansea subsequently going down in folklore.
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He hit the ground running by scoring twice and providing an assist for Scott Sinclair in a 5-0 rout of QPR.
And he would go on to net 22 goals in all competitions during an unforgettable debut season in Wales.
His second campaign at the Liberty Stadium was unfortunately hampered by injuries, in a sign of what was to come.
Having helped the Swans win the League Cup in 2013, however, he was able to play in the Europa League for them – scoring four times during his side's run.
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The man in question – who used to be clean shaven and sported long, brown hair during his heyday – is of course the Spanish star Michu.
The icon’s form earned him one Spain cap during his Swansea love affair, starting a World Cup qualifier against Belarus.
All good things come to an end, however, and he was on the move in the summer of 2014 as he joined Napoli, initially on loan – but he only made six appearances for them as his ankle injuries stacked up.
Michu would return to Swansea, but had his contract cancelled in November 2015.
He subsequently joined Spanish amateurs Burgos, before returning to Oviedo for one final season the following summer.
In July 2017, Michu announced his retirement aged just 31 due to his persistent ankle issues.
Following retirement Michu initially returned to Langreo, where his brother was head coach, as director of football.
He then became technical secretary at Oviedo in 2019, before taking on a sporting director role at Burgos.
Speaking about his injuries to the Telegraph last year, Michu harrowingly explained: “I have chronic pain that I have to live with.
“There is no more treatment. I’ve had several operations, I don’t want to take any more pills and I don’t want to take much more medication.”
However, Michu appeared to be full of joy in a recent photo he shared on Instagram of him holding his child – although it may have taken some of fans a little while to recognise him.
He now has short, cropped hair and stubble, but although his appearance may now be a lot different, the love for him in South Wales will always remain the same.
And even the Premier League’s top scorer Haaland counts himself as one of the former star’s biggest fans.
The Norwegian dubbed Michu a “legend” as he revealed that he idolised him as a kid and even used to tag himself as this cult hero on Instagram.
The former Swansea man even swapped shirts with the Manchester City hotshot in 2020 after learning he was his hero.
Michu said: “I gave him a Burgos shirt and he gave me a Borussia [Dortmund] shirt.
“I'm glad he's having that impact in England, he's going to be a star at European level with [Kylian] Mbappe. They're going to reign like [Lionel] Messi and Cristiano [Ronaldo] did.
“For me it is an honour that a footballer of this level had me as a reference when I was younger.
“If he doesn't have any serious injuries, he could be playing 13 or 15 more seasons at the highest level. If all goes well, he will score more than 300 goals.”
When asked if Haaland will play in Michu's native Spain, he was adamant that he WILL end up in LaLiga.
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He added: “Surely he will end up playing sooner or later in our league.
“Although with the conditions he has, it doesn't matter where he plays, he will always score goals.”
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