Curiosity might have killed the cat, or so the saying goes, but it led to Salomon Kalou making a move he will never regret, joining Hertha Berlin and the Bundesliga.
Four and a half years after arriving in the German capital, where he is just two goals shy of 50 in the Bundesliga, Kalou spoke to Soccer Laduma about his decision to move to Germany and reflected on one of the most famous nights in his career at the Allianz Arena.
Question: Salomon, Do you know that you are currently the 10th highest scorer in Hertha history?
Salomon Kalou: Wow, really? I didn’t know!
Question: You sit on 48 goals for Hertha and are close to reaching 50 strikes. What would it mean to you to reach 50 goals for such a historic club?
Kalou: It's a good feeling. For me, coming to Hertha was an opportunity to play for a traditional club with a lot of value. To have such a big impact for the club is a good feeling.
Question: You played for Feyenoord, Chelsea and Lille before you came to Hertha. What made you decide to join the Bundesliga club?
Kalou: I wanted to try something new. I think I'm the type of player who is not afraid of any adventure. I have played in the Dutch league, the English league and the French league. I was very curious to get to know the German league, the famous Bundesliga. Coming to Hertha was a great opportunity to progress in the Bundesliga and my club gave me the chance to do so.
Question: You already mentioned you played in the French league and in the Premier League. What would you say is the main difference between the English top-flight and the Bundesliga?
Kalou: I think the difference is that, here in the Bundesliga, teams are trying to play very tactical, while in England the idea of playing is to do everything to win – it doesn’t matter who you play, you always want to win. As a consequence, the tempo is very high in England. Germany is more tactical and you’ve got to be patient to wait for the right opportunity to win.
Question: You were part of the Chelsea team that famously won the UEFA Champions League against Bayern Munich in 2012. Many thought the Bavarians would be the favourites in their own backyard. How did you beat the Germans?
Kalou: (Laughs) I think we didn't have a lot of pressure. No one was betting on us winning in Munich, because Bayern were the big favourites of the tournament. For us at Chelsea, it was actually a difficult season that year. We finished like fifth or sixth in the league. Being in the final, even knocking Barcelona out - no one expected us to do that. We didn't have a lot of pressure. We knew it was going to be a tough game, but we had to be ready. The strength of our Chelsea team that time was the fighting. The more difficult the game was, the more our players would show up, and in that game, everybody showed up.
Question: There's a video from 2015 in which you had a yoga expert and a personal trainer help you to stay fit. It seems like you're somewhat the perfect athlete and you're still very fit, even though you are in the latter stages of your career. What would be your advice to a young African who wants to become a professional player like yourself?
Kalou: Invest in yourself! You’ve got to invest in yourself, you’ve got to take care of your body because this is the foundation for your work. If you are fit, you have a chance to make it to the top. If you don’t take the time to invest in yourself, to invest in your body, you cannot expect to reach a high level. Every top player I know invested in themselves. At Chelsea, even though we had the best physio and the best coaching team, all the players went home and had their own personal staff, people who took care of their bodies. This is very important for young players and sometimes, as Africans, we don’t.