Salomon Kalou has revealed that he could have been a Dutch international had he not joined Chelsea.
The striker has enjoyed considerable success at the Africa Cup of Nations with the Ivory Coast, the country of his birth, helping them to progress to the semi-finals of the competition.
However, he has admitted that during his time at Feyenoord he was approached by Marco Van Basten about the prospect of taking up Dutch citizenship.
Kalou was keen to go ahead with the process, but after having his initial application rejected and then securing a move to Chelsea making it difficult to appeal the decision he decided instead to accept the call of his homeland.
"I could have become Dutch, and I would have been proud to do so," he told L'Equipe.
"I put a lot of consideration into the decision and had no regrets about making it.
"But it could not be settled because I had not been in the Netherlands long enough.
"The decision to move to Chelsea then changed everything. When such a great club wants you, it is difficult to refuse.
"I could not stay at Feyenoord once I knew of their interest.
"I felt bad for Van Basten because in a way I had abandoned him.
"So after making that decision, the easiest option was to play for the Ivory Coast.
"My country was not forced to accept me after I had refused to wear their national shirt, but they did, and today I am very happy.
"I believe the key moment for me was when I helped the Ivory Coast to qualify for the Beijing Olympic Games. Then they truly forgave me."