Fair warning, Salomon Kalou is one of my all-time favorite Chelsea players. So while none of this is exactly breaking news (even the interview itself is almost a week old) and it has absolutely nothing to do with the big Manchester United clash this weekend, please indulge my man-crush for a second. A hat-tip/acknowledgement goes to theRamster who posted a FanShot of The Daily Mail's report of Kalou's interview - although the interview was actually with The Independent's Steve Tongue. And while I do not know who or what Steve Tongue is in the least bit, I'm insanely jealous of him for getting to bask in the real world aura of @Skalhuno.
But enough of me talking. Time to open up and let your mind receive the angelic words of one Salomon Kalou. Born in Abidjan, discovered in the ranks of ASEC Mimosas (see also: Yaya Toure, Gervinho, Emmanuel Eboue, and older brother Bonaventure Kalou), and plucked by Chelsea out of Feyenoord at age 21, Kalou was with the Blues for 6 seasons. He made over 250 appearances during that time - a huge proportion of which came from the bench - and had a foot in just about 100 goals.
Every time I got to the level where I had convinced a manager I should be in the team and play regularly, the manager gets sacked. So you have to go back to the beginning, convince the new manager and, when you convince him, he gets sacked again.
When finally established under Mourinho (whom he considers Chelsea's best) & Avram Grant, Scolari actively dissed the Ivorian; when finally established under Ancelotti, it was Villas-Boas' turn to actively diss. It was hard out there for such a nice guy. And before you get all pissy at Salomon, understand that he's fully aware of his (and other players') individual responsibilities:
We can all blame the manager. But as a player we have to take responsibility [...] we should be working for the best interests of the club – not individuals.
The fact that he says this in connection with Andre Villas-Boas seems crazy and way too nice to me, but I'm nowhere Kalou's level of general love-for-fellow-man. Kalou spent so much time in AVB's doghouse for a silly handball (and make no mistake, that was a really stupid play from Kalou), it's a miracle he didn't just go all Carrie on his inventivizing ass. I mean he tried sending chocolate, flowers, and PowerPoints of apology, but Andre's heart was cold and bitter.
It is fortunate for all of us then that Chelsea have an owner like Roman Abramovich who is not only a man of extreme wealth & desire, but has a keen sense of proper timing:
He wanted to win the Champions' League and then he won it, so it was worth it – doing all that [management merry-go-round]. Maybe if he backs off, it won't work. Sometimes you have to remind people, 'I'm the one doing that'.
Roman always reminded us very well and it worked every time. He came twice to tell us – once in Carlo Ancelotti's time and we won the Double, and he came again after AVB and we won the Champions' League.
So just in case there's any doubt - although, seriously, how could there be any? - Roman Abramovich is the best owner:
You cannot ask more from an owner than what he did for us. He always brought the best manager and players to the club, and he helped everyone to win something. I won whatever a player could expect to win, so that was the best experience of my career. Any other player would dream of having that experience at any other club.
Kalou was also asked about the whole John Terry affair. Unsurprisingly, he provided a clear, level-headed assessment of the situation - revealing nothing surprising about Terry to any fan who follows Chelsea on a regular basis, but certainly not approving of the way the captain behaved in that situation:
Do I think he's a racist? No, because I never have that experience with him personally. I enjoyed working with the guy, a fantastic guy. A guy always there for the team and always fighting for the team, a really good example for the club.
I judged him for how he acted with us. I saw the person I go training with every day, how he treated me, and I didn't have a problem with him, and no other player did.
But I think [racial abuse] should be zero tolerance on the pitch and also with the fans.
Strong and sensible words from the man who (along with Ashley Cole, Jose Bosingwa, and others) provided written statements in support of the embattled player.
If you have a few minutes, I'd recommend reading the whole interview - especially if you're a Kalou fan like me. Despite Steve Tongue's attempts to inject some ambivalent commentary, you will read it with a (sad) smile on your face.
Miss you, Salomon.