The goals of Cote d'Ivoire international Salomon Kalou have been central to third-in-the-table Hertha Berlin's emergence as a genuine force to be reckoned with in this season's Bundesliga.
As the 30-year-old striker explained in an exclusive interview with bundesliga.com, the Old Lady are now hoping to cap a campaign of great promise with a place in the UEFA Champions League.
bundesliga.com: Salomon Kalou, you underlined your stellar form with your 13th goal of the season in the 2-1 win over FC Ingolstadt 04. How do you explain your consistency?
Salomon Kalou: My first season at Hertha was definitely a bit rocky, but I've been really happy and in top shape since last summer. I was able to take part in the entire pre-season, which is a tremendous help. We're also all playing with a massive amount of self-confidence.
bundesliga.com: After reaching double figures in the Netherlands, France and England, you've now repeated the trick in Germany. Is that something you're particularly proud of?
Kalou: Definitely. It's never easy to score regularly in different leagues, because the playing style is different each time and you need a certain amount of time to get used to it. If you score a lot of goals regularly in different leagues, it proves you can do it anywhere.
bundesliga.com: You give the impression that you're very happy in Berlin...
Kalou: That's also true. I like the city and my family have settled in well. And we're having a fantastic season. It's so much fun to play for this team. At Hertha, I'm really able to maximise my potential and show my strengths. That's also thanks to Pal Dardai.
bundesliga.com: What's it like working with the Hertha head coach?
Kalou: It's fantastic. I sense his belief every time. He talks to his players a lot, and he's completely honest. If he's not happy with something, he lets you know straightaway - which is great.
bundesliga.com: With seven games to go until the end of the season, Hertha are third - four points clear of FC Schalke 04. Is Champions League qualification now the main objective?
Kalou: When I look at this great city and the possibilities this club has, I really want to achieve something huge here. Reaching the Champions League would be sensational. It's down to us. If we keep going out there feeling relaxed and confident, I'm sure we'll finish the season in third.
bundesliga.com: It was a bit of a rocky start to 2016, before Hertha rediscovered their form...
Kalou: We've drawn too many games, but we've still managed to prove that we're solid and hardly ever lose matches. The defeat to Hamburg was a big disappointment. We're more astute and calmer, we're always getting better. If it's not my day or Vedad's [Ibisevic], there's always someone else to fill in like Mitchell Weiser or Vladimir Darida. That speaks volumes for us.
bundesliga.com: Your next game is against Borussia Mönnchengladbach – a direct rival in the battle for the Champions League places.
Kalou: It's a really difficult task for us. Gladbach are a real force at home, but we want to take something from the game. We've got the potential to do so.