EXCLUSIVE: It's Chico time! Music videos, somersaults and gifts from Pep… Swansea's Spanish centre back is anything but dull
22:30 GMT, 20 December 2012
There is a video of Chico Flores on the internet, but studying it won't necessarily help Wayne Rooney on Sunday. 'I was asked to do it and I was happy to help,' he says. 'If people say I am crazy, then I say they are crazy.'
The footage starts with a fishing boat motoring into a port and Chico, dressed in yellow oilskins, is on the bow running his fingers through his hair. It's the opening sequence of a music video shot earlier this year for Nane, a singer from Majorca.
Swansea City's Spanish centre half is playing a love rat. After docking he kisses the singer but a few lyrics later is shown with another woman.
Scroll down for the video
Back of the net: Chico was an online
sensation starring in a music video (below)
LOWDOWN ON THE BOY FROM CADIZ
Born: March 6, 1987 in Cadiz, Spain
Who has he played for
2008-10 Almeria (47 games, 1 goal)
2010-11 Genoa (15 games, 0 goals)
2011-12 Real Mallorca
(33 games, 0 goals)
(14 games, 1 goal)
Nane catches him and what follows is a montage of Chico's character and the singer in happier times, with clips of them hugging, kissing and rolling around with their dog.
'She was going to record her new album, and she wanted a football player to promote it,' Chico, 25, says. 'I was playing for Real Mallorca at the time and as the song is pop-Flamenco style I fit perfectly, because I am from Andalucia. It got quite well known in Spain.'
It's become quite well known in the offices at the Liberty Stadium, too. There, it's simply referred to as 'THE video'.
Head over heels: Chico is a cult hero at Swansea
When it was discovered on the 'Chico TV' section of his website, beneath clips of him go-karting and Barcelona's Xavi describing his man-marking as 'obsessive, crazy', no-one was especially surprised.
They love Chico, but if 'loco' is the most used description of a man fast becoming a cult hero, then 'different' is a close second.
The tales are many and varied, from the cartwheel, to the knife, to the kung-fu kick, to the motorbike antics that terrified managers in Cadiz. He will line up against Manchester United on Sunday and, as ever, no-one truly knows what to expect.
He is a gifted ball-playing centre half, a man who loves possession and has a pass-completion rate of 91.7 per cent, a record bettered by only seven other players in the Barclays Premier League.
Four years ago he was part of the Spain Under 21 squad; Pep Guardiola wanted him at Barcelona and still keeps in touch. But he is also delightfully unpredictable.
Last weekend, in the space of 20 or so minutes against Tottenham, he took on and beat Emmanuel Adebayor, rolled around on the floor with what appeared to be an injury of grotesque seriousness, and exchanged blows with Kyle Walker.
It's never dull: Chico exchanged blows with Walker and clashed with Adebayor (below) last Sunday
'It is always exciting one way or another when Chico is around,' says Bernardo Muela. He is a friend and part of the agency that has looked after Chico's affairs since he was a 16-year-old. 'Ever since he was a boy in football, he has been like this.'
Chico, as he is simply known, was born Jose Manuel Flores Moreno in Cadiz in southern Spain to a family with no great tradition of sport, but a grandfather who loved football.
'Financially, it was hard growing up,' Chico says. 'My parents separated when I was young and I have always lived with my mother and sister. There were never any sport professionals in my family, but I was very close with my grandfather, Matias, and he helped me love football.
'He passed away and that is why I have Chico Flores on the shirt. Before I was using only “Chico”, and I added the “Flores” because that was my grandfather. He gave me the name Chico (boy) and I will always keep it.'
He adds: 'Growing up, it was just me, my mother and my sister. We didn't have much money. My mum worked so hard for my sister and me, cleaning people's houses, housekeeping in hotels. People ask if she is proud of me, but it is mutual. My sister and me are very proud of her for what she has done for us.'
Chico got his first professional contract at the second-tier club, Cadiz CF, aged 17 in 2005 after coming through their youth ranks.
Edge of his seat: The Spaniard joined the Premier League club in a 2m deal over the summer
'It was a great time, very exciting,' he says. Likewise for a succession of Cadiz managers. Muela says: 'In Cadiz the big thing every year is the carnival and Chico loves carnival. Every year he would turn up at the training ground dressed in some costume while riding a motorbike. The managers would be shocked.'
He stayed at Cadiz until 2008, when he joined Almeria and got his chance in La Liga. It could have been a more glamorous move.
'I went on loan to Barcelona B,' he says. It was early in 2008 and Guardiola was in charge and assisted by Tito Vilanova. They won their league that season and the team got promoted to the third tier, with Guardiola moving on to lead the first team.
Get your coat: Chico has become a key figure for Swansea
'It was a wonderful education,' he says. 'All the memories I have from that time playing with Pep Guardiola are really positive.
'Pep is very close to the players. He was and is a great but he is very modest, he behaves as one of us. It went well for me. Pep wanted to take me to the first team but Cadiz wanted too much money. That was it.
'I still have a book that Pep gave me. It's called Learning to Lose. He helped all the players there so much.'
Chico went on to Almeria, where he was a hit and won a place in Spain's Under 21 squad, and in 2010 Genoa forked out €4million to take him to Serie A. One of the first things he did was buy his mother a house.
'It was a good move for him, but the football side was tough,' Muela says.
Chico struggled with injuries and never got a foothold at a club who changed manager three times while he was there. He was signed on loan by Real Mallorca coach Michael Laudrup in July 2011 and again by the same man for Swansea a year later. 'He is one of the main reasons I am here,' Chico says.
He started making his mark on his new team during their pre-season tour of America. After the other new arrivals sang initiation songs into their dining spoons, he picked up a steak knife and belted out We Are The Champions. In his third game he was sent off for a head-high tackle on Louis Saha.
'It looked malicious at the time, but it wasn't,' he insists. During his eighth, in the Capital One Cup fourth-round win against Liverpool, he scored and then fell on his head attempting a cartwheel celebration.
'The grass was wet and my hand slipped,' he says. His sister was at Anfield that night, after Chico moved her over from Spain. He wants his mother to join them in Wales. Their names and dates of birth are tattooed on his left wrist. On his left bicep reads: 'Don't dream your life, live your dream.' He's happy in Wales.
'The people here are wonderful,' he says. 'They have been so warm to me.' He talks about going to see the other Chico, the X Factor one, who is doing panto in Swansea at the moment. 'I like his music, and we share a name. Maybe I will go and see him soon.'
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