Arriving on loan from Getafe on the final day of the 2012 summer transfer window, Nicolas Ladislao Fedor Flores, or Miku as he is better known, became only the second Venezuelan, after Fernando de Ornelas, to pull on the famous green and white hoops of Celtic.
A late addition to the squad, Miku was brought in to add extra firepower to the Celtic frontline as Neil Lennon’s Bhoys embarked on their first Champions League campaign under the Northern Irishman.
Relatively unknown to Scottish football fans before his move to Celtic Park, Miku’s capture fell somewhat under the radar. Standing at over 6ft tall, industrious, and with good movement off the ball, Miku had, on paper, all the attributes required to be a hit under Lennon.
Slow Rise to Prominence
Born in Venezuela to a Hungarian father and raised in Spain, Miku had a unique blend of football influences to call upon, making him a player worth taking notice of. He had also top-scored for Getafe in the season before his move to Celtic, hitting the back of the net 12 times in 38 league games; a highly impressive return for a mid-table La Liga side.
However, by the time Miku ended up at Celtic, he had already turned out for seven different clubs as he was farmed out on loan by parent club Valencia on an annual basis at the start of his career, before eventually signing a permanent contract with Getafe.
Miku spent his formative years on loan at various lower league clubs in Spain, averaging a goal every 3.5 games as he looked to force his way into the main squad at Valencia. At the start of the 2009/10 season, it looked like he might finally get the break he was looking for, scoring a hat-trick against Stabaek in a Europe League match. As it turned out, those would be his only goals for Los Ches with a move to Getafe confirmed in January 2010.
With Getafe, Miku was afforded the top-flight, first-team football he was unable to secure at Valencia. He quickly became a mainstay in the team helping them to achieve 6th, 16th, and 11th placed finishes in his first 2.5 seasons at the club; with a personal highlighted of scoring a double at the Bernabeu against Real Madrid in a 4-2 defeat during the 2011/12 season.
During this stage of his career, Miku began to thrive at international level and was part of the Venezuela squad that achieved a 4th place finish in the 2011 Copa America, the nation’s best-ever performance in the tournament.
The Celtic Year
Miku’s exploits with Getafe and Venezuela had not gone unnoticed and he was on the move once more in 2012, this time the destination was Celtic Park and at 27 years of age, the striker should have been arriving at the peak of his career.
First pick at Getafe, Miku hadn’t joined Celtic to play second fiddle to Gary Hooper, but to be a key part of the team, win silverware for the first time in his career, and taste the Champions League. His intentions were pure enough, and having rejected moves to relegation candidates in the English Premiership to join Celtic instead, he was warmly welcomed by the faithful.
Miku was given the hallowed number 7 jersey on his arrival, a curse perhaps given the size of the footsteps left behind by previous wearers of that number. As it would transpire throughout the season, Miku could not live up to the expectation that comes with the number 7 jersey at Celtic Park.
In total, Miku mustered a measly two goals for Celtic, both of which came away from home, at Tannadice and the Tulloch Stadium respectively.
Fittingly, however, for a man who had spent his entire career in Spain before moving to Glasgow, Miku’s finest hour in the Hoops would arrive against Spanish opposition; the Catalan giants, Barcelona.
On an evening where Celtic celebrated their 125th Anniversary, another fairytale chapter was written in the clubs history as the Bhoys saw off Tito Vilanova’s irrepressible Barcelona. It was the night that a young Tony Watt wrote himself into Celtic folklore, scoring the winner just 10 minutes after entering the fray.
For his part, Miku played the full 90 plus minutes and had a subtle, yet important, hand in the opening goal by impeding Valdes’ movement as Charlie Mulgrew’s corner made its way on to the head of Victor Wanyama.
While Celtic spent most of the game camped in their own half, Miku posed the Barca backline a number of problems with his hold-up play and clever movement on the Hoops rare forays forward.
But strikers are judged on goals and Miku was finding them to come by. As the season wore on, chances to impress came fewer and further between as the emergence of Tony Watt alongside established frontmen Hooper, Samaras, and Stokes severely restricted Miku’s game time.
The option to sign the South American on a permanent deal at the end of the season was not invoked as Celtic looked elsewhere for their next hitman. For Miku, his time in Paradise was over.
Life after Celtic
Since leaving Celtic, Miku has continued his nomadic ways with spells in Qatar, Spain, India, and most recently Cyprus where he currently partners English striker Matt Derbyshire upfront for Omonia Nicosia, who happen to be managed by ex-Rangers defender Henning Berg.
At 34, Miku is now in the twilight of his career but he’ll always have that glorious night in November 2012 to look back on and the memory that it was Celtic with whom he won his first career silverware; the 2012/13 Scottish Premier League title.