Interview – John Salako

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The United Mates Keitel and Joe are joined by ex-Crystal Palace, Coventry and Reading legend John Salako to talk about his career in both the Premier and Football Leagues, representing the England senior team and working on TV for Sky Sports.

On football and his childhood:

John was born in Nigeria and moved to England when he was young after the tragic passing of his father and recalls playing football from a young age with his brother and jokes about often ending up as the goalkeeper. John then tells a story about the time he had to go in goal vs. Wimbledon’s “Crazy Gang”… that day Vinnie Jones broke Gareth Southgate’s nose.

On his time playing for Crystal Palace:

John was part of the infamous 1990 FA Cup final between Palace and Manchester United; despite coming close, John and Palace would be eventual runners up, however John got some personal revenge the following season when he scored a brace against United . John describes playing with the likes of Ian Wright (who he describes as the “most important player” he ever played with), Mark Bright, Nigel Martyn, Chris Armstrong and a very young Stan Collymore. He then discuss the ups and downs that would follow at Palace over the next few seasons as he personally suffered a serious injury and the club was relegated and promoted a couple of times before he left Selhurst Park.

On his international career and playing for England:

John could have chosen to represent Nigeria, however he would receive a call from Graham Taylor, which John thought was a prank, and be called into the England squad for their tour of Australasia… John would go on to make 5 senior appearances for England before injuries hampered his international career.

On his career post-Palace:

John would play in a successful Coventry side before moving to Fulham and then Charlton before taking a step down the footballing ladder to sign for Reading where he would be reunited at first with his ex-teammate Alan Pardew and then his ex-manager Steve Coppell . John ended his playing career with Brentford.

On his time coaching and his career on TV/in punditry:

John would coach Crystal Palace’s youth sides as part of an academy that has produced players such as Wilfried Zaha, Victor Moses, Wayne Routledge and Aaron Wan-Bissaka down the years. John would then have the opportunity to once again team up with ex-teammate/ex-manager Alan Pardew as a first team coach during the 2015/16 season when Crystal Palace would sadly have their heart broken once again in an FA Cup final by Manchester United. He talks about parting ways with Palace after this and finding it extremely difficult to find work in coaching ever since. John’s TV presenter career began during his playing career as time away from the game caused by injuries allowed him to explore opportunities in the world of entertainment… eventually John would become a fixture on the hugely iconic and popular Gillette Soccer Saturday with the likes of Jeff Stelling, Chris Kamara and Paul Merson.

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