Kalou: I will dedicate Champions League victory to those I rescued from war

The Ivorian forward who uses his Chelsea salary to support his family and friends after civil war back home wants victory against Bayern Munich to ameliorate their suffering
Chelsea forward Salomon Kalou has revealed that beating Bayern Munich in Saturday's Champions League final would be all the sweeter for him following the suffering endured by his family and friends last year back home in war-torn Ivory Coast.

Kalou, who hasn't been on the losing side for the Blues this season, would have more reason than most to toast a Chelsea victory in Munich after the horrendous events of the last 12 months in his homeland.

The Ivorian was brought up as one of 10 children and now uses his wages to supply food and shelter for his family back home, but after civil war broke out, his world was turned upside down.

His father, Antoine, and friends of Kalou's went missing amid the conflict, leaving the 26-year-old fearing the worst.

He told The Sun: “I had been able to move my mum and all my sisters to a house in neighbouring Togo. My dad and friends were going to follow them but the war broke out and they were completely stuck.

“I feared for them. I spent entire days on the phone and on the internet. I followed the news every hour.

“Sometimes I could not trace my father or speak to him for a week. He was in the danger zone and so were most of my friends.”

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Through financial and networking factors, Kalou was eventually able to relocate his close ones to a safer area, operating from his base in Cobham in Surrey.

The Ivorian added: “I got many friends to a safe place. Some of them had to escape to Ghana. Looking back I am so grateful that they all survived.

“I consider my help to them as a duty I had to fulfil.

“At this moment there is peace again in my country. I don’t know how long for.

“I’m lucky, I live in London and I have a lovely house in Cobham. But, like Didier Drogba, my roots are in Ivory Coast.

“People in Japan are used to earthquakes every few years. We Africans know we are confronted with civil wars."

In modern-day football, where the financial aspect of the game appears to dictate more than ever, Kalou shows that not every footballer fits into that stereotype; he has provided most of his £18 million windfall from playing football towards his family's welfare, but Kalou believes success should always prevail above money.

He said: “A lot of players slow down once they are millionaires. They stop training really hard, they start to party, they buy ridiculous things. Those players end up with very little or no life.

“I have kept going by wanting more success.

“I don’t care about luxury. I became a professional player because I love winning trophies. That’s why I came to Chelsea in the first place.”

Kalou, despite his record of having not lost this season, is expected to start on the bench at the Allianz Arena on Saturday night, be he points to two reasons why this does not bother him.

He said: “I have two records at Chelsea — I have come on more than any other player from the bench and I have scored 14 goals as a sub, more than anyone else.”

The former Feyenoord man has never moaned about lack of playing time, and believes he has performed for whoever has been in charge and always got on with his job in a professional manner.

He added: “That is not my style. I have to get the respect from the manager on the pitch.

“That’s how I have been brought up. I only want to get playing time, if the manager thinks I deserve to play."

Kalou also credits the fact that the core of Chelsea's team has been a work in progress for a number of years now. He feels the Blues may now be able to reap the biggest of rewards at last, under Roberto Di Matteo's stewardship.

The forward claimed: “We want to write history with this group of players and you can only do that if you have a strong core of players in a squad, who have been together for a long time. People forget that Drogba, [John] Terry, [Jon Obi] Mikel, [Michael] Essien, [Florent] Malouda, [Frank] Lampard, [Paulo] Ferreira, [Petr] Cech and [Ashley]Cole have all been together for a long time now.

“We know each other inside out and that helps.

“If you keep bringing new players in at Chelsea, you won’t be successful. We are about to put the crown on this philosophy at Chelsea.”

Kalou also praised Di Matteo for his work at the club, and believes his tactics, particularly in the Champions League, have paid dividends against some of Europe's top clubs.

He enthused: “Di Matteo turned everything around this season. He gave attention to every player. He made it clear every player had a chance. He also made us fight again and made sure we are a really united bunch of players.

“For me it worked out well. Under Andre Villas-Boas I hardly got a game. Sometimes I even ended up in the stands.

“I feared I was heading for the same door as Alex. He had to leave.

“But Di Matteo thought I deserved another chance. I got that chance because of all the hard work I put in."

Kalou believes that his strike away at Benfica in the quarter-final first leg is proof that he is a man who can rise to the big occasion, and feels he can be the man to seal Chelsea's first ever Champions League crown.

"I’m proud I contributed to us getting to the Champions League final by scoring at Benfica in the quarter-final.

“I have won everything at Chelsea except the Champions League. But I played in the 2008 final and will take that experience with me to Munich."

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