Kolo Toure says it was difficult to leave Manchester City for the African Cup of Nations knowing the impact it may have on his club career.
It is a busy time for City as they continue their push for a UEFA Champions League place whilst preparing for a Carling Cup semi-final against Manchester United.
With a change of management to boot, no player's place is guaranteed as the squad attempt to prove their worth to the newly appointed Roberto Mancini.
Toure admits that he would have liked to stay at Eastlands in order to cement his place in the starting line-up.
The 28-year-old, though, has elected to join his fellow countrymen in Angola, despite admitting to being torn between the two loyalties.
"It is very difficult to leave your team for a month to play in the African Nations," he said.
"But you are playing for your country, for your father, for your family, for your pride.
"We are caught between two really important things in our lives but we have to go there and play for our pride.
"You have a great job with your club and start something. You just want to keep this focus but then you have to go play for your country. It is not easy for us."
Toure joins Didier Drogba and Solomon Kalou in the Ivory Coast line-up ahead of their opening fixture with Burkina Faso.
Hoping for a fruitful tournament, he says the African Cup of Nations could set up a superb tournament for South Africa as hosts of the 2010 World Cup.
"It is going to be a massive year, especially this African Nations," he said.
"Playing in Angola before the World Cup can be an advantage. We are going to try to use that because we have some more time together.
"It will enable us to gel much more than we used to and that can help us to be a strong team in the World Cup."