The man who had been Hertha Berlin’s guaranteed goalscorer last season had endured a quiet start to this campaign. Family tragedy and a nagging back issue derailed his efforts to get off to good start, but all that changed on Friday night in Berlin against Borussia Mönchengladbach.
Goals in the 18th, 33rd and 84th minutes made sure Salomon Kalou would steal the headlines following Hertha’s 3-0 win over Gladbach. That’s big news: The 31-year-old forward had yet to score this season, having made only two appearances prior to Friday night. He was overjoyed with how the evening turned out.
“It’s a good feeling to score three goals. It’s a relief with all the difficult situations I’ve had to deal with.”
Watch: Kalou on his hat-trick heroics:
Kalou’s difficulties weren’t simply the ones often associated with professional footballers - injuries, loss of form, friction with a coach - his troubles were human ones. Kalou’s father Antoine died of a heart attack in August. Just two weeks later, his aunt passed away as well.
Instead of preparing for the new season, the goal-getter spent time back in the Cote d’Ivoire mourning with relatives.
He missed the start of Hertha’s season. When he returned to Berlin and began to train again, Kalou experienced back trouble that kept him from playing for several weeks more.
He didn’t make his first appearance until Matchday 8, but now he’s back to his old free-scoring ways in front of the supporters who love him.
“The fans are very important for me. It was a difficult season for me so far. I went through a lot of emotions. To feel the support from the fans is amazing.”
Watch: Kalou - a model athlete:
After the match, Kalou took a microphone from the stadium announcer and thanked them for the “love” they’d shown him. Now he wants to pay them back with results.
“My ambition is to keep playing, and keep playing well. For sure, I want to score goals to help my team to win as many games as possible. We want to win our games every weekend.”
Kalou said he believes Hertha can go on to top last year’s seventh-place finish and get into Europe come the end of this season.
“That's the next step. Last year we showed that we have potential. We have a lot of young players, a lot of potential in the team. We only have to believe in ourselves. And if we do so, we can achieve something.”