Salomon Kalou claims he was frozen out at Chelsea by former manager Andre Villas-Boas after failing to sign a new deal.
• Blog: Fortune favours the brave
Kalou, 26, came in from the cold to score Chelsea's winner at Benfica in the Champions League on Tuesday, with caretaker boss Roberto Di Matteo wiping the slate clean.
The Ivory Coast forward's contract is winding down but he could be playing his way towards a new deal. That did not appear to be the case under Villas-Boas, as Kalou claims he was marginalised after failing to commit to new terms.
"I was told by the previous manager that I was not allowed to play because I didn't sign a contract," Kalou is quoted as saying in The Sun. "Maybe he was building a new team and thinking I wasn't part of the future.
"That was a really big frustration and it has been a difficult season for me not being involved. I always worked hard and showed there was no reason why I shouldn't be in the team. It's not about money but playing time.
"If you don't get on the pitch, it's very hard and sometimes the club never gave me the chance to show what I can do."
Kalou has been at Chelsea since 2006 and has netted 58 goals in 235 games for the Blues since arriving at the club from Feyenoord.