Gareth Bale admitted he had realized a dream after scoring his first hat trick for Real Madrid against Valladolid on Saturday.
The Wales international's form in front of goal has been exceptional since his return to full fitness, with the 100 million-euro man notching seven goals and six assists in nine Liga matches, and he pinned his impressive return on the opportunity to train every day alongside Cristiano Ronaldo - the man he insists deserves this year's Ballon d'Or.
"It's always a pleasure to score, but even more of a pleasure to score a hat-trick at the Santiago Bernabeu," Bale remarked after the match. "Everything I expected has come true. I needed time to adjust after missing pre-season, but I'm getting better. I am very happy here. The fans and the club are amazing.
"I want to keep improving and working hard to learn from the best, like Ronaldo. He is the best and deserves the Ballon d'Or."
Speaking of his delight at setting up Karim Benzema's header with a stunning cross, the 24-year-old continued: "Besides scoring, it is also a pleasure to make assists.
"It is part of my job and I'm very happy about that. My third goal was thanks to Marcelo, who made a great move."
Bale has now scored nine goals in 13 appearances since completing his move to Santiago Bernabeu in early September.