It is three years to the day since Swansea City won the Capital One Cup by beating Bradford 5-0. Though I suspect anybody reading this does not need to be reminded. The cup win saw the Welsh side play in the Europa League in 2013/14, and after a stunning 3-0 victory away at Valencia towards the start of their campaign, the run ended against Italian giants Napoli, though not without a fight.
Indeed, the Swans drew 0-0 at home before unluckily losing 3-1 in the second leg, though, again, I suspect those reading don’t need reminders. However, many of the players who were a part of that squad have since joined other teams, other leagues, other continents even. So, where are they now?
Much was expected of the former Real Betis star after Swansea signed Jose Canas on a free from the same Spanish club. In his early days he showed dedication, fighting ability, the sort of tenacious, aggressive midfielder perhaps Swansea lacked. To say it did not work out with him at the Liberty Stadium, however, would be an understatement. Indeed, he has frequently been seen as someone who did not put much effort in, who perhaps failed to adapt to his new surroundings, and, crucially, simply did not put consistent performances in. Canas is now trying to get his career back on track at Spanish side Espanyol, where he plays more of a role than he ever did at the Swans, although he has only played a dozen La Liga games this season.
If much was expected of Canas, then even more was to be anticipated from Pablo Hernandez, who, at the time of joining the Swans, had four Spanish caps to his name. After impressing with Valencia due to his skill, flair and pace, this seemed like an exciting signing. The first few months of the season Pablo shone, but then he got injured. After that, he showed his quality, but only in bursts. After watching how, for example, he changed the match after coming on at half-time against Cardiff, and played an exquisite pass to Wayne Routledge, it was abundantly clear that he had technical ability. It is indeed such a shame he never showed his true potential at the Liberty Stadium. Now, he is playing with Madrid-based Rayo Vallecano, along with other ex-Premier League players such as Bebe, Manucho, Razvan Rat, and, a player who never got a chance with Cardiff, Javi Guerra. Pablo is fighting a relegation battle, and has only returned to the Spanish league this season, after spells with Al-Arabi and Al-Nasr.
Chico Flores loves Qatar so much he has yet to leave – now why doesn’t that surprise me. One of the better of the Spanish signings made by Michael Laudrup, the central defender entertained greatly during his time in South Wales and partnered Ashley Williams. Although Chico played well, he was far too rash, erratic, and always ended up getting sent off. Moreover, many of the things which he did that constitute entertainment also include trying to score from 30 yards out. Not fun when you are not in the lead and it is late in the game. However, as aforementioned, Chico Flores still plays in Qatar at Lekhiwiya where Michael Laudrup used to manage. He seems to be enjoying his Ferrari and monkey.
Roland Lamah was one of the more unknown signings made by Swansea, even if he did also come from the Spanish top-flight. The Belgium international (with five caps to his name), currently plays in the Turkish league for Ferencvaros. Although only on loan at the Swans, and not a particularly key player, he did manage to play around ten minutes of the cup final against Bradford.
Alejandro Pozuelo, a young player with flair, has not had the best starts of careers, it must be said. After featuring sporadically in a Real Betis side that had the likes of Benat, Joel Campbell, and the aforementioned Canas, he joined the Swans in the summer of 2013. However, he seldom played, and when he did feature, did not impress too much, at least not enough in order to stake a claim for the first team. The same happened last season at Rayo Vallecano, where he has since left for Belgium side Genk. He has good flair, and can see a pass, but has not done anywhere near enough to play regularly in any of the top leagues in the world. At the age of 24, he needs to buckle down and work hard, otherwise he will never get another chance.
Jonathan de Guzmán was recently linked to a return to the Liberty Stadium, although that never materialised. The Dutch international spent two seasons on loan in the Premier League and played regularly at the heart of the midfield. When he returned to Villarreal, he found he was not needed, and followed Spaniard Michu to Napoli. Aside from a hat-trick in the Europa League, De Guzman has seldom featured in Seria A or in Europe and currently is on loan to fellow Italian side Carpi.
Finally, Michu. The Spanish international was quoted regularly as being the bargain of the season, signing for Swansea for £2 million. In his maiden season, the one which saw the Jacks win the cup, he scored 22 goals in all competitions and was a real fans favourite. However, the second season certainly was underwhelming. With the arrival of Wilfried Bony, poor performances from the team, injuries for Michu, and the sacking of Michael Laudrup, the Spaniard only managed to score six goals in all and only featured in 15 Premier League matches. After a disappointing spell with Napoli and more injury troubles, his contract was finally rescinded in November. He is currently playing with Langreo, his brother’s team, in the Fourth Division of Spanish football.
A lot has changed over the three years which have occurred since Swansea were victorious at Wembley, both inside the club and outside of the club. Some of the players above performed well during their time in Wales, and others not so. However, they helped create one of the best moments Swansea have ever experienced, and they all played a part in the Capital One Cup. And for that we should be grateful.