Mohamed Diame was delighted to be back on the field with his West Ham United team-mates in Saturday's 2-0 pre-season victory at Bournemouth.
The No21 was given leave to join training a week later than his Hammers team-mates after captaining Senegal in two vital 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Angola and Liberia in June.
While his country remain on firm course to qualify for next summer's finals in Brazil, Diame is now focused on doing his best for West Ham after an eye-catching first season in claret and blue.
The midfielder picked up the Goal of the Season, Individual Performance of the Season and Signing of the Season awards last term and, following his return to Club duty at the Goldsands Stadium, he is targeting more success in a West Ham shirt.
"It was very good to be back," he told West Ham TV. "I was happy to be playing again with all my friends and to see all the staff. I had a good moment on the pitch and I hope things are going well for the start of the season."
While many of his squad-mates were relaxing after a draining 2012/13 Barclays Premier League campaign, Diame flew off to Africa to skipper his country. Four points from two matches left Senegal top of their African qualifying group and within touching distance of the World Cup.
"It was a very long season last season, so I went to take some rest before I went away with the national team. We had 20 days with Senegal but I feel OK. I didn't miss the pitch for a long time but I'm all right.
"We [Senegal] are going well at the moment and we hope to qualify for Brazil, which would be an unbelievable World Cup so we don't want to miss it."
While his international ambitions look like being fulfilled, Diame knows he will have to keep performing if he is to be in Sam Allardyce's team when they host Cardiff City on Saturday 17 August.
The return of France international Alou Diarra from loan at Stade Rennais, the emergence of the promising Ravel Morrison, the signing of teenager Danny Whitehead and the arrival on trial of Netherlands international Orlando Engelaar on trial mean places in the midfield are at a premium.
With Mark Noble, Jack Collison and captain Kevin Nolan also in the mix, the 26-year-old will have to keep producing the goods .
"I see everybody is focused to be in the starting XI. Everybody is working hard so this is good for the team. We just need to be focused on the first game against Cardiff because we know it is important to start well to make the season easier."
With England centre forward Andy Carroll and Romania skipper Razvan Rat joining the Hammers this summer, there is strength and depth across Big Sam's squad.
So, whoever starts against Cardiff, Diame is confident West Ham can build on their impressive tenth-place finish last term and push on towards the upper echelons of the Barclays Premier League.
"We have to have our ambition and we know the project of the Club, so we need to work to try to finish near the top. We are going to try to give our best and make sure to do better than the last season.
"I feel a top-eight finish is achievable, of course. Why not?"