A tall, lanky centre forward with skills, Salinas is best remembered for his spell at Barcelona – having started his career with Athletic Bilbao – while he was also a prolific goalscorer for club and country.
Salinas earned 56 caps for Spain, and represented the nation in three World Cups and two European Championships.
Salinas was born in Bilbao, Biscay. In 1983–84 he won the second division's Pichichi Trophy award, as he helped Bilbao Athletic finish runners-up to Castilla CF. During two seasons he also played 13 games for the main side, scoring his first La Liga goal on 26 March 1983 in a 4–0 home win over Celta de Vigo, as the Basques captured back-to-back league titles and added the 1984 Copa del Rey.
After two more seasons with Bilbao, netting 12 goals combined for two-third-place finishes, Salinas moved to Atlético Madrid, where he scored an impressive 31 from 1988 to 1990 (including two on 7 February 1988, in a 7–0 home thrashing of RCD Mallorca).
Salinas signed for FC Barcelona for the 1988–89 campaign, linking up with several other Basque players, including veteran José Ramón Alexanko, José Mari Bakero, Txiki Begiristain and Ion Andoni Goikoetxea – these would help form the backbone of the legendary Dream Team. He scored 20 league goals in his debut season, as Barça finished second to Real Madrid, and he also netted in both the 1989 Cup Winners' Cup final against U.C. Sampdoria and in the following year's domestic cup 2–0 win against Real Madrid.
In the subsequent seasons, Salinas appeared sparingly for the club, due to his age and the emergence of attacking players as Hristo Stoichkov. He would still manage to grab some important goals in spite of limited playing time. On 30 January 1994, after coming in as a second-half substitute against Albacete Balompié, he scored both goals in a 2–1 home win, as he only played in another six games during the season, with Barcelona eventually achieving four league titles in a row.
Upon leaving Barcelona, Salinas played for Deportivo de La Coruña, helping it finish second in his only season. Although not a regular in the starting lineups he finished with 12 league goals, only surpassed by club great Bebeto; as a late replacement at the Camp Nou on 3 December, he netted in a 1–1 draw – only months after leaving his former club – after a header from José Luis Ribera.
After the signing of, among others, Russian Dmitry Radchenko, Salinas was deemed surplus to requirements, joining Sporting de Gijón where he scored 18 goals in the 1995–96 campaign, crucial in helping the Asturians avoid relegation. He was held in high regards in the city during his one 1/2-year spell, with the fans often singing: "Bota de oro, Salinas bota de oro!" ("Golden boot, Salinas, golden boot!").
Salinas then had an abroad stint with Yokohama F. Marinos in Japan, where he again showcased his scoring skills, teaming up with former Barcelona teammate Goikoetxea. He then returned close to home, having played his last two seasons with Deportivo Alavés, where he scored in 1999–2000's opener, a 2–1 home win against Málaga CF. Alavés finished sixth and would go on to reach the following year's UEFA Cup final.
On 19 May 2000, Salinas played his last professional match, scoring in a 2–1 loss at his first team Athletic Bilbao. He retired at nearly 38 with 417 games and 152 goals, in the Spanish top flight alone.
Salinas represented the Spain national team during a decade, scoring 22 goals. His debut was on 22 January 1986 as he netted in a 2–0 friendly win against the Soviet Union, in Las Palmas.
Salinas went on to represent the country at three FIFA World Cups: 1986 (where he scored against Northern Ireland), 1990 (netting in the second-round loss against Yugoslavia) and 1994, as well as two UEFA European Championships, 1988 and 1996.
In the 1994 World Cup quarter-final against Italy, after he had found the net in a 2–2 draw against South Korea, Salinas missed the chance to put Spain into the last four: with 1–1 and less than ten minutes to go, he marred a fast-break, with only goalkeeper Gianluca Pagliuca to beat. Roberto Baggio sealed the 2–1 final result minutes later, and the Spaniard was ultimately more remembered for this miss rather than the massive amount of goals scored during an 18-year professional career.Scores and results list Spain's goal tally first.
Immediately after retiring, Salinas began working as a sports commentator, first for RTVE and then on laSexta.
Salinas' younger brother, Francisco, was also a professional footballer (centre back), and played for Athletic Bilbao and Celta. Both made their top level debuts in the 1982–83 season.Athletic Bilbao
La Liga: 1982–83, 1983–84
Copa del Rey: 1983–84
La Liga: 1990–91, 1991–92, 1992–93, 1993–94
Copa del Rey: 1989–90
Supercopa de España: 1991, 1992
European Cup: 1991–92
UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: 1988–89
UEFA Super Cup: 1992
Copa del Rey: 1994–95
Pichichi Trophy: 1983–84 (Segunda División)