New France star Mathieu Valbuena has expressed his pride at turning around his career in the space of just 12 months.
The attacking midfielder has admitted he was close to joining Monaco or Zenit St Petersburg in the summer of 2009 having become frustrated by a lack of first-team opportunities at Marseille.
But the 26-year-old chose to fight for his place and helped Didier Deschamps' side to a league and cup double last season.
Valbuena was then rewarded with his international debut back in May, earning a place in France's World Cup squad, and he has established himself as a regular for Marseille in both Ligue 1 and the Champions League this season.
Yet things continue to get better for Valbuena as he scored in Les Bleus' 2-0 win over England at Wembley last week before scoring again for Marseille on Tuesday night as they beat Spartak Moscow 3-0 to book their place in the Champions League knockout stage for the first time since they went on to win the competition in 1993.
"I am so happy," he told L'Equipe. "Scoring at Wembley, even being lucky enough to be in the starting XI - it was just exceptional.
Worked like a dog
"When I came into the stadium, I told myself: 'You worked like a dog to reach it'. I remembered all the past moments, it gave me shivers.
"I am proud of my current situation, I have deserved it. I am reaching what I have always dreamt about."
Valbuena's appearance at Wembley was his seventh for France and he now has two goals to his name.
He has been a regular under new coach Laurent Blanc and reckons much of the credit for his international call-up lies with his club Marseille, who signed Valbuena from amateur side Libourne Saint-Seurin in 2006.
"One year ago, I didn't play for my club," he added.
"My life could have changed if I have joined Monaco, as it was an opportunity. Zenit St Petersburg was a candidate too.
"But I only wanted to stay and win titles at Marseille. If I am an international player it is thanks to l'OM."