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Kalou: I want to make history at Hertha Berlin like I did at Chelsea

Hertha Berlin striker Salomon Kalou already has nine Bundesliga goals to his name this season. Yet he's desperate to bring silverware to the German capital like he did in England.

DW: You've been back to your best this season. It's fair to say that it's been your best football for a few years. What's brought that about and what are the conditions you need to be at your most dangerous?

Salomon Kalou: I think that when I arrived last year, it was my first experience in the Bundesliga, and I was playing in the new team with a couple of new players. I think this year I got the time to set up with the team. I went to trainings camp with them, I got used to my teammates, and I think that also helped me to be at my best this season.

You've got nine goals already this season - more than you scored in the entirety of last season. Do you have a personal target that you want to hit by the end of the season?

I work with a team objective. It doesn't matter if I score more or less. As long as we, as a team, achieve our goals - that's what matters. I think this year we have the opportunity to go and qualify for the Champions League. For me, that's more important than the number of goals I'm going to score.

Getting back into the Champions League must be a huge motivation for the team. You've won the competition before. How much does the chance of having another crack at the Champions League with Hertha Berlin motivate you?

I think the Champions League is the most exciting competition in Europe. Playing in the Champions League is a platform for every player to show your skills, to compare yourself to other players.

I think for this season at Berlin, for the club, it's an amazing opportunity to also promote our football and the way we play. And our fans want to see us play against big clubs. I think everyone is motivated to achieve that goal together.

But we shouldn't put the pressure on. We should continue to play with the free mindset that we have been playing with since the beginning of the season. We have 18 games now, and if we manage well we can play in the most exciting competition in Europe.

Deutschland Fußball Bundesliga Hertha BSC vs. 1. FSV Mainz 05

Hertha Berlin currently sit third in the Bundesliga behind Bayern and Dortmund.

Does the team really believe it can qualify for the Champions League or is that a bit too far ahead?

No, I think everyone has that in the back of their mind. As a player you have the highest ambition you can have. I think we have that in the back of our minds, but like I said, it shouldn't be a pressure. It should be a motivation. I think that's what the training camp is about.

You have to prepare yourself mentally and physically to compete. I've never thought you cannot achieve your goals. As long as we're still in that mindset we really have a chance to achieve that goal.

What does coach Pal Dardai say to you before a huge match to get you to perform at your best in those big games?

I think when you play a big game as a player you're already motivated because it's a big, big challenge. You're aware of the fact that it's a big game. But I think when you play those kinds of game you have to be willing sometimes to defend a lot and also you have to be willing to go forward and take the opportunities that you get.

I think that's what the coach says. You have to believe in your skills and you have to believe that you can win against any team in the Bundesliga. When you play at home you have to go forward sometimes. Even if you don't get that many opportunities. The few that you'll get you have to be 100 percent ready to finish.

Bundesliga Hannover 96 - Hertha BSC

With nine league goals Kalou has already surpassed his total for the whole of last season.

What brought you to the Bundesliga? What was it about German football? What about Hertha Berlin?

It's a club with huge history, and I think that there's a lot of history to write as a player because the team haven't won a lot of trophies. If I come here and I manage to succeed with the team, win a trophy, my name will be written in the club history.

That's what challenging about it. You always have to push yourself to go for the bigger challenge. When I joined Chelsea, they had never won the Champions League and we won it. Our name will be in the Chelsea books forever and that's what I'm looking forward to doing here.

That trophy was at Bayern Munich's expense, of course. When you look at any Bayern players in the current squad or maybe other players in Bundesliga history, did they have any influence on you coming to the Bundesliga?

Oh yeah, of course. I think when you watch a player like Arjen Robben - who I played with at Chelsea - who is a wonderful player. It's always a pleasure to watch him play - and to play against him. Less to play against him but to watch him play is always a pleasure. I think the fact that I came here and such a big club like Bayern constantly plays the best football. I admire skill. I admire the way they play.

Were there players in Bundesliga history that inspired you to play in Germany?

There's a lot to be honest. There's a lot. But I think I'm going name a few that, of course, stay in the mind. Obviously (Robert) Lewandowski, for sure, Robben, (Giovane) Elber from Bayern, a long time ago.

That's three so two more. Stéphane Chapuisat, the Swiss, from Dortmund. He was a great striker. I'm going to say Matthias Sammer because he's the second defender to win world's best player.

A strong Bayern and Dortmund contingent there...

Everyone is in it. Bayern and Dortmund together. Because they are the two clubs who have really competed in the Champions League. I remember these players - Sammer, Elber - all those players back in the day.

You won't have to get past Matthias Sammer to score this season, so that's something to look forward to.

He was a great defender. He was a fantastic defender. You know. That's why he won best player because he was amazing.