Salomon Kalou missed training Friday, not due to injury but because he had a more important appointment elsewhere. Kalou was in court to try to get his Dutch passport application fast-tracked. Marco van Basten was there too, to speak on behalf of the 20-year-old. The national coach told the court that Kalou is guaranteed a place in the Dutch squad that will try to win the World Cup in Germany 2006 if he is granted citizenship in time. The court will hand down its ruling on 9 December.

It was a real media event at the Rotterdam court when one of the country’s leading strikers and one of his biggest admirers – the coach of the Dutch national team and one of the greatest strikers in Dutch history – Marco Van Basten made their entrance. The former European Footballer of the Year wasn’t in the mood to mince his words at the hearing. ‘Salomon is an exceptional talent with extraordinary qualities,’ said Van Basten in response to a direct question from judge A. van 't Laar. ‘He can find the right solution in a small space with little time. For himself and for his team-mates. He can make the difference. Arjen Robben can do that too. But we are too dependent on him. If he is injured we have quite a lot of difficulty beating weaker opponents. That’s why we would very much like to take Kalou to the World Cup.’

Salomon Kalou spoke himself at the end of the hearing. ‘To you Dutch people this country may not be anything special, but it is to me. I like very much to live and play football in Holland. I go on holiday to my country of birth Ivory Coast once a year. I am always happy when I get back to Holland. I have this country to thank for everything. Because of Dutch football and the Dutch people I am doing very well,’ said Kalou, who also stressed his special gratitude to national coach Marco van Basten for the support he has shown. ‘I am very proud of that.’

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