Having joined the club as a trainee in 1986, John Salako took very little time to establish cult status at Selhurst Park, going on to make 273 appearances in red and blue over a nine-year period.
Now back on board as part of Alan Pardew’s coaching staff, the 46-year-old is keen to make up for lost time, as the excellent interview attached above proves. After feeling a sense of injustice at his inability to break into the coaching industry upon hanging up his boots, the former winger decided to carve out a niche for himself in the world of TV, but after being reunited with Pardew during the festivities surrounding Julian Speroni’s testimonial, he found himself in the right place at the right time.
Following the departure of former Palace first-team coach Ben Garner, Salako was asked to assist his former teammate with some coaching work during pre-season and took to his new role like a duck to water. After years on the outside peering in, he was now at the club he holds closest to his heart, with a potential route up the managerial ladder at a pace which suits him.
Discussing the barriers which currently exist for Afro Caribbean coaches within the English, Salako’s desire to break away from the norm is instantly evident, but for now, he seems acutely aware of the need for him to learn to walk before he can run. Taking inspiration from the fine work being done by the likes of Chris Hughton and Chris Powell elsewhere of late, there has been a real shift in his general state of mind since joining Pardew’s backroom team, understandably buoyed by the faith that has been shown in him.
In what is an extremely entertaining and enlightening interview, you get a real sense of John as a man, burning with ambition but happy to finally be in a position that will allow him to flourish if he puts the necessary hard graft in. After a successful career on the pitch, it’s good to know that we’re giving him the chance to succeed. As always with Palace, we look after our own.