James Rodriguez has said Everton and Carlo Ancelotti "trusted me when nobody did" and that he is "forever grateful" for a second chance after a frustrating end to his spell at Real Madrid.
Everton pulled off one of the transfer coups of the summer when they lured James away from Santiago Bernabeu for £22 million ($29m) at the start of September.
The Colombian international had spent the previous six years of his career in Madrid, scoring 37 goals in 125 appearances in all competitions and getting his hands on two La Liga titles and two Champions League crowns.
Unfortunately, he fell way down the pecking order after returning from a two-year loan spell at Bayern Munich in the summer of 2019, and only featured in 14 games last season under Zinedine Zidane.
Bringing in James was initially seen as something of a gamble for Ancelotti, who signed the midfielder from Monaco in 2014 while he was in charge of the Blancos, but his calculated risk has already started to pay off in the early stages of the 2020-21 campaign.
The 29-year-old has contributed three goals and three assists to Everton's Premier League cause in his first six outings, helping them rise to fourth in the table.
James is delighted to be working with Ancelotti again at Goodison Park, and has promised to continue giving his all for the Italian after making a bright start to his career with the Toffees.
“Both [Everton and Ancelotti] trusted me when nobody did,” he told BT Sport. "I’ll forever be grateful to the club and to Carlo. That’s why I try to show my best in every game, that’s why I try to play at my highest level. This is what I want to do for the club.
“He’s a very easy-going person, knows how to treat players and how to get the most out of us. That’s why he worked along with all those great clubs, and now, with this new project, we expect him to do his best to achieve extraordinary things.”
Asked if Everton can qualify for the Champions League this term, James responded: “I think we’ve got what we need to be there next year.
“For qualifying, we need willingness to play, we have to be hungry to succeed in every game. I believe all players need to have that same feeling. We need to follow the same path.
“Carlo Ancelotti is a king in terms of European football.”
James went on to praise one of his new partners in the final third of the pitch, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who has stormed to the top of the early Golden Boot standings with eight goals in seven matches.
“He’s a player always willing to score, he’s hungry to score goals,” the Colombian said of the Everton striker.
“That’s a great thing, because all strikers are always looking for opportunities to score. I think he’s the same. He’s also a very young player, but still, he seems to be so ambitious.
“He’s hungry to score. I hope this year he’ll score 30-40 goals.
“This would definitely help the team achieve great things and get points. He’s an amazing player. We’re also aware of him and of his talent.”