Kolo Toure returns to Ivory Coast action this weekend thrilled at his return to form with Liverpool.
The centre-back turned down the chance to play for his country earlier this year because he did not think he deserved to play.
While he was out of favour at Manchester City, Toure stayed away from international duty too and he has not played for the Elephants since January, missing several World Cup qualifiers.
Following his summer move to Liverpool though, Toure has been back in action and in form, and he is happy to return to the Ivory Coast fold for this Saturday's World Cup play-off first leg with Senegal.
"They (national team officials) were calling me but I told them I had to prepare myself," said Toure.
"I had to take time and start playing again because when you don't play for your club it is very difficult to play for your national team.
"You need to be fit to play and I wasn't playing a lot for (Manchester) City but this is a new start for me now and I am playing for a great club.
"I have been working really hard and everyone in Ivory Coast has been waiting for me.
"When I was not playing they were talking but I knew what I was doing, I knew my qualities. I had to work, play and then go and help my national team.
"I hope my national team will go to the World Cup, which will be very important."
Toure admits he is loving life at Anfield and believes a top-four finish is possible this season.
"The most important thing now is to take it game by game," he said. "The season is long, every game is like a final for us. We don't look forward, we just look to the next game which is the most important.
"We have good players and a great mentality and are at a fantastic club. We just need to play well every week and give 100 per cent for our team-mates and the fans.
"We have to keep working hard and at the end of the season we'll count the points and see how far we can go.
"We played well in our last match (a 3-1 win over Crystal Palace), got three points and are very happy and we can enjoy it but we go away for the internationals and when we come back it is like a new season starting again."