KALOU HAS SOMETHING TO PROVE

IGLS – Training camps are always tough, but no one got so much ‘special attention’ this week as Bonaventure Kalou. The Ivorian started playing catch-up on the fitness front and had to pay a high price, because while the rest of the squad got to kick a ball around, for Kalou there was little more than running exercises on the menu. 'No fun, but there’s more to football than a ball.'

‘It’s been a hectic week! I arrived in Rotterdam lacking fitness, so I was taken to hand in training. On the first day of training there was a test and I didn’t pass. Then you know you have problems. Here in Austria I’ve mainly been running, for as long as my fitness is below the group’s. It’s no fun, because I cannot keep away from a football. The trainers are right, because for a player like me it’s vital I’m 100%. I can’t afford to be playing catch-up. ‘There is a reason for the shortfall. I got married during the summer and you do have your head in the clouds a bit. It was a great party in Abidjan and Christian Gyan was there on behalf of the playing staff. After that, I just did too little and I’ve paid the price now. Not such a good idea with hindsight. ‘I took the test again yesterday, together with Shinji and Robin van Persie. It was the first time for them. We all passed and that was a great feeling after such a strenuous week. I can finally join the group and thankfully I don’t have to miss any more of the preseason training. It’s far too important. ‘I’m now up to speed and ready to win some games with Feyenoord. Last season was fantastic, but we have to try to surpass that this year. At least one prize is a must. Everyone has the same ambition; you see it in how the lads approach training. There’s a lot of motivation. ‘On a personal level, I have to claim a regular first team place. At the end of last season there was some discussion about me doing my best to get the last drops out the bottom of the barrel. I know that my talent makes me valuable to Feyenoord, but I have to be more consistent. The trainer said to me that I can be a real star if I constantly achieve the level I achieved away against Inter and that’s my aim. I want to be important to Feyenoord. When I’m physically and emotionally 100%, then I can do anything I want. But especially mentally I’ve had to fight. I let my head drop too quickly, and you can’t do that when you’re a professional footballer. ‘I talk to Mario Been a lot about that sort of thing. He was the same kind of player in his day: good technique, but not always tiptop mentally. He’s been through it all before and he can protect me from making big mistakes. That’s important for me. So I’m really going to put a lot of effort into the mental aspect this season.’
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