Reading favourite John Salako has called on the club to 'get back to basics' after suffering relegation to League One.

Arriving at Reading in 2001, Salako was in the twilight of his career having already spent a decade at Crystal Palace and featured for England.

Still making over 100 appearances for Alan Pardew's Royals, the midfielder was crucial in the last team to win promotion out of the third tier in 2002.

Leaving over two decades ago, the Reading Chronicle asked the 54-year-old what it took, and will take the current crop, to get the club back into the Championship.

"It's going back to basics," he said. "The infrastructure is there. There are probably little bits that need doing at the ground- there’s a wonderful training ground. It’s about getting the right person in charge, the right scouts in and bring the right players in.

"I genuinely think, for a club like Reading, the most important person at the club is the manager. His ideas and philosophy should be paramount. He is the one who should be dictating who to keep, taking a good look at the squad for a good clear out. Now is a great opportunity, because there will be lots of players out of contract this season. You’ll be able to pick up some really good players on a free but get the right players with the right mentality."

With the-then Madejski Stadium still new and rising well above some of the older grounds in the third tier at the time, and Salako believes that this was a key element of their iconic promotion 21 years ago.

"When I came, we were a bigger club, arguably one of the biggest ones, with a better stadium and good players. You’re talking about your Nicky Forster’s, Martin Butler’s, Cureton’s, Phil Parkinson’s. It was a big squad and you had youngsters like Nathan Tyson coming through. That’s what I remember: a good, young squad with good experience like Viveash, Parkinson and Whitbread. There was a good balance. We had the stadium, but we were training on a dogshit park. It’s very much a mindset. That was something special, especially for me coming out of the Premier League.

"Matchdays when you arrive at the Madejski, it makes you feel a million dollars. You felt you were going to a big club in a big stadium. Going to play at the Madejski was massive and it made you feel good. Going to other grounds like Brentford and Chesterfield, you were going with your head held high and thinking ‘we need to do the job here, because we’re better than this.’ We were all ambitious and we wanted to fly."

Out of the playing side of the game for almost 20 years now, Salako admits that the quality is superior to the divison he helped take the club out of with a 1-1 draw at Griffin Park on the final day.

"I think it’s stepped up massively. As much as we see the Premier League be the biggest, the Championship is the fourth or fifth biggest league in the world so it’s massive. League One is like the old Championship that we had, with big teams up there. It’s amazing how some of the smaller teams can get their acts together. It isn’t necessarily all about the money and finance, it’s about how you run the club.

"If you look at from Nicky Hammond coming in with [Alan] Pardew and how long Sir John Madejski tried to get it right- it clicked under Pards, and we had Brian McDermott and Brendan Rodgers- such good people. We put that squad together and you build a nucleus for two or three years."