When Bengaluru FC line up at the Salt Lake stadium on Wednesday in their next Indian Super League (ISL) clash, they will come against a player who had been a constant in their side since the club’s inception in 2013 up till this summer.
John Johnson will be now donning ATK colours on the night after joining Steve Coppell’s revolution at the Kolkata club in June this year. The English defender was Bengaluru’s first-ever overseas signing ahead of their maiden campaign in the I-League.
Roped in by then Bengaluru coach Ashley Westwood, Johnson’s impact at the club was immediate as he bagged the award for the best defender of the league in a title-winning campaign.
In his second season with the club, Bengaluru were pipped to the I-League title by Mohun Bagan on the final match day but they did not go trophy-less for the season as a Federation Cup triumph followed.
Another I-League title beckoned for Johnson and the Blues in their third season in Indian football. Johnson’s compatriot Westwood departed the club but the defender stayed put, committing to a fresh two-year deal.
Under Albert Roca, Johnson remained a prominent part of the plans although an I-League title eluded the club in the Spaniard’s first season.
In their maiden campaign in the ISL, Johnson once again featured prominently by making 18 appearances over the course of the season. The 29-year-old forged a solid partnership with Spain's Juanan at the heart of Bengaluru’s defence.
The pair’s solidity at the back played a key role in Bengaluru’s march to the final where they were undone by John Gregory’s Chennaiyin FC.
After five trophy-laden seasons at the club, Johnson took the step to join a revamped ATK under another Englishman. His start to life at the Kolkata club has not been too shabby either with the defender already achieving something he never did in Bengaluru colours – bagging an ISL goal.
Although an ISL goal eluded him in his only season in the league with Bengaluru, Johnson’s contribution to the club has been immense.
Over the course of five seasons, he made a total of 105 appearances for the club in the I-League, ISL and AFC (Asian Football Confederation) Cup, scoring a combined five goals in the process.
He had been a key starter in each of his five seasons and had quickly become a fan favourite for his no-nonsense approach to defending.
While he must have spent last season admiring from close range Miku and Sunil Chhetri’s goal-scoring exploits, he will now be entrusted with the job with stopping the prolific Bengaluru attackers come Wednesday.
Will the Englishman get one over his former team-mates or will Bengaluru record the third win of their campaign? We will find out soon enough.