AVB 'punished Kalou for failing to sign new contract'
Published 15:25 28/03/12 By Martin Lipton
Lisbon lion Salomon Kalou has revealed how he was turned into a non-person by former Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas.
The Ivory Coast striker played the first two games under the Portuguese in August but made just two Carling Cup starts and a handful of appearances off the bench afterwards.
Kalou had become the forgotten man at Stamford Bridge before being recalled for the first game of the Roberto Di Matteo reign at Birmingham.
And the 26-year-old, who rewarded Di Matteo's faith with the late winner away to Benfica that put the Blues within touching reach of a sixth Champions League semi-final in nine seasons, explained the reasons why he was dumped into no-mans land.
Kalou said: "It's always very important for a player to play and enjoy the game. For me it has been a hard season not playing.
"It has been a difficult year for me. I was told that because I hadn't signed the new contract I was offered I was not allowed to play.
"Maybe Andre was building a new team and he was thinking I wasn't part of the future of the club.
"But as a player you want to get involved more, you want to help the team to win games and also for yourself, you want to score more goals and show that you're a better player than people think.
"If you don't get on the pitch, it is very hard to show that every weekend. I feel like maybe sometimes the club never gave me the opportunity to show what I can do.
"That was a really big frustration for me. Hopefully this is a new beginning and everything will be all right."
Kalou's insecurities increased when he saw Villas-Boas' treatment of Alex and Nicolas Anelka, ordered out of the first team block and forced to train with the youth set-up after saying they were ready to quit the club.
"I was worried that what happened to them might happen to me as well," he added. "They did well for the club and did a great job.
"Every player has his own issue with the club. I can't relate my issue to them. For me the most important thing is to work hard in training.
"It's football - sometimes you play, sometimes you don't.
"As a football player you want to be on the pitch but if the manager chooses to put you aside there is nothing you can do.
"You have to respect his decision and wait for the right opportunity and now I hope that there are more opportunities for me.
"Robbie is here to make the team work well so he is giving the chance to everyone. Every time I have an opportunity to be on the pitch I enjoy it to the maximum.
"I think I work hard and showed that there is no reason why I shouldn't be in the team.
"Every time I get an opportunity to play I fight for the team. I have never put myself first before the club. I never think there is no way I shouldn't have a future at the club.
"I have been at the club for six years, I enjoy being here. Everyone feels like family at the club. There is no reason why I don't want to stay."