Salomon Kalou has told bundesliga.com that he is relishing the prospect of adding to his four goals in seven Bundesliga meetings with Borussia Dortmund this weekend.
Kalou struck twice as Hertha held Dortmund to a 2-2 draw on Matchday 9, and is confident he can help his side claim another major scalp, the Old Lady having also taken down defending champions Bayern Munich at the Olympic Stadium in 2018/19.
bundesliga.com caught up with the 33-year-old forward to discuss Saturday's clash with Dortmund, the story of his season so far, being the German top flight's record Ivorian scorer and much more besides...
bundesliga.com: What do you expect from the Borussia Dortmund game on Saturday?
Salomon Kalou: "It’s always nice playing against Dortmund. They are playing good football this year under [Lucien] Favre, they are creating a lot of chances and scoring a lot of goals. It’s going to be an open game. We like this kind of game, I like this kind of game, because we can also score. Both teams have goals in them so it’s going to be a good game."
bundesliga.com: Dortmund haven't been in the best form. Can you take advantage?
Kalou: "There are no easy games in the Bundesliga. You can see that from Dortmund losing against Augsburg and Bayern losing against Hertha. You have got to give 100 per cent every game. We won’t focus on Dortmund going through a difficult patch at the moment, we have to focus on our game and try to play as well as we can. If we approach the game like this then we will have a chance of winning against Dortmund."
bundesliga.com: You scored twice in the reverse fixture in Dortmund...
Kalou: "I scored my first two goals of the season in the first game against Dortmund. It’s always an open game against them. Dortmund are a team who will never sit back and defend for 90 minutes. They are going to attack. When you play against an attacking team you have more space and more chance of scoring. I always score against Dortmund, I love playing against them because they are a top team who play good football."
Watch: Kalou traded braces with Dortmund's Jadon Sancho on Matchday 9
bundesliga.com: You're the Bundesliga's record Ivorian goalscorer - how does that make you feel?
Kalou: "It’s a good feeling to represent my country in such a big competition like the Bundesliga. But there have been other players who have been here before me, Boubacar Sanogo, Didier Ya Konan - they paved the way for other African players, myself included. I’m not really focussed on the record, I’m more focussed on the fact that I can also pave the way for the young Ivorians and the young Africans in the league and help them to have success in the Bundesliga."
bundesliga.com: How do you rate Didier Ya Konan, the previous record holder?
Kalou: "Ya Konan played for Hannover. He was a good player, very clever. I played with him in the national team and he’s such a nice guy. It’s good that he did such a great job here and hopefully I can do the same."
bundesliga.com: Last season you scored 12 Bundesliga goals. So far this season you have scored three times...
Kalou: "I have to get back into a good rhythm. It’s not easy to come back from an injury and start playing your best. I need time to adapt. The last game was better, I created chances. Now I have to focus on scoring more goals, assisting, playing well and helping the team to win games. From my experience it’s not only by scoring that you can help the team, you can also help your teammates to shine."
bundesliga.com: What's been your biggest moment of the season so far?
Kalou: "Winning against Bayern at home was fantastic. We played on a Friday night, the stadium was full. It was a super game. We played really well against one of the top teams, not just in the Bundesliga but in Europe. Playing such a high level of football was a good moment for me and Hertha."
bundesliga.com: You've scored a lot of headers down the years - what's your secret?
Kalou: "It’s all about timing. When you know defenders in the Bundesliga are big and tall your timing has to be very good. You wait for the right moment and attack the ball in that moment. That’s the only way you can score with your head. If it’s 50-50 you have no chance because the defenders are so tall."
bundesliga.com: How do you see your role within the team?
Kalou: "The coach played football so he understands that a player with experience can be important for the team. The good thing about the coach is that he gives young players a chance but he also gives experienced players a chance too. This means we can help the younger players to have an impact on the team and means we can work together as one team. He has a good working relationship with me, Vedad [Ibisevic], with the more experienced players."
bundesliga.com: What's your favourite position?
Kalou: "I play in so many positions now that I don’t really know what my favourite one is! I just want to be on the pitch really. Football for me is more about enjoying the experiences, about being on the pitch and helping the team. When you get to 33, it’s more important to go out there and enjoy yourself. It doesn’t matter which position I play, I have to be focussed on helping the team to win."
bundesliga.com: What are Hertha's objectives for the remainder of the season?
Kalou: "Right now we’re not far off qualifying for the Europa League. Why not push harder? We’ll take it game by game and if we win on Saturday against Dortmund that would be a huge step towards our goal. The Europa League is the main goal of the whole team so we have to go for it."
bundesliga.com: What would you have been, if you hadn't been a footballer?
Kalou: "If I wasn’t a footballer and I hadn’t made it as a pro, I don’t know. It’s difficult for me to say I’d be a teacher or a mathematician. All I know is that I like helping people so I’d be working for a non-profit organisation trying to do that. I think life is about reaching out and trying to make a difference in other people’s lives. If I wasn’t playing football I’d still be trying to help people reach their goals and be successful in life."