Just as comfortable playing at centre-back as in a defensive midfield role, it is this versatility that makes the tall Slovak Kornel Salata a very useful option for coach Vladimir Weiss. The 25-year-old, a lynchpin in Slovan Bratislava’s title-contending side, has reached a crossroads in his burgeoning career. How he fairs at the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ in South Africa will doubtless decide which direction he takes next.
Salata’s first tentative steps in the world of football came in the town of Sturovo, prior to him signing professional forms with Matador Puchov in 2005. A successful year in the north of the country, during which he clocked up 29 appearances and four goals, was followed by a move to high-flying Artmedia Bratislava, Puchov’s relegation as much a factor in the transfer as Salata’s growing reputation.
In the space of three years in the Slovak capital, interspersed by a loan period at Dukla Banska Bystrica, the industrious ball-winner earned many admirers with a series of consistent performances. Top of the list was the coach of Artmedia’s illustrious rivals, Slovan Bratislava, who made a move for Salata at the start of the 2009/10 season. By way of thanks, the player has continued to put in top-level displays on the pitch. And while Salata’s place in the starting line-up for Slovakia’s crucial South Africa 2010 qualifying match against Poland in October 2009 was something of a surprise, the fact that he has been included in his country’s final 23-man squad for the global showdown certainly is not.