Premier League Career: Crystal Palace (1992-1993, 1994-1995), Coventry City (1995-1997), Bolton Wanderers (1998), Charlton Athletic (2000-2001)
Born in Nigeria, John Salako’s first club and most prominent period of his career came at Crystal Palace. He gave a decade of service to the Eagles, experienced the utmost highs during this time of winning five England caps from Graham Taylor in 1991 and two crushing Premier League relegations in 1993 and 1995.
Salako’s game was all about pace and plenty of it. Defenders were often scared to face him with this trait. His imagination meant he had a good pass and decent dribbling skills too. He often linked up well with Chris Armstrong and his best Premier League season was arguably one that saw Palace relegated. In 1994-1995, Salako missed only three games and scored four goals. This included a fantastic double away at Highbury in October 1994 as Alan Smith’s side won 2-1. It was a pleasurable moment for Salako. A knee injury meant he had missed a huge portion of the club’s maiden Premier League season when they went down on the final day with defeat at Arsenal’s ground.
Pre-Premier League, John was part of the Palace squad that reached the FA Cup final in 1990. He started both games but ended up with a loser’s medal after the club were narrowly beaten in the replay by Manchester United.
After Crystal Palace’s second Premier League relegation, Salako moved on in the summer of 1995 to Coventry City. He was a regular in their team, making 72 appearances before a brief loan spell at Bolton Wanderers during the second half of the 1997-1998 season. After an unhappy 10 games with Fulham, Salako returned to the Premier League with Charlton Athletic in 2000. His last Premier League appearance came as a 10-minute substitute against Fulham in September 2001. He moved soon afterwards to Reading before ending his career with Brentford in 2004-2005.
Since retirement, Salako has done some television work for Sky Sports and returned to Crystal Palace as a first-team coach between August 2015 and December 2016 as part of Alan Pardew’s coaching staff. Since March 2017, Salako has been working as a Marketing Director for SME Business Finance.