Everton forward Oumar Niasse believes former manager Ronald Koeman tried to "destroy" him while he held the reins at Goodison Park but is glad he managed to get through an incredibly difficult period, when he was stripped of his shirt number and locker.
Niasse, who has enjoyed a remarkable transformation from misfit to cult hero at Goodison Park in recent months, was almost immediately banished from the first-team set-up by Koeman, who was relieved of his duties last month.
The former Everton boss tried to offload the Senegal star in each of the three transfer windows during his 16-month reign on Merseyside - he did get his wish temporarily when the 27-year-old was loaned out to Hull City - but Niasse has surprisingly outlasted the Dutchman after a £7m move to Crystal Palace in the summer fell through.
Many players would have buckled under such treatment, but Niasse, who is Everton's top scorer this season with six goals in all competitions, was not going to let Koeman destroy his dream of playing in the Premier League, something he strived for while plying his trade in Turkey and Russia.
"When Koeman arrived I was a real good target to destroy," Niasse told the BBC. "He tried, but I was strong enough to stay. I worked so hard to come to the Premier League so I had to stay in the Premier League."
"For him (Koeman), he worked so hard to let me go. He tried to a do a lot of things that were not nice. Having taken my locker, my shirt number, he took me out of the dining room where we eat and took me to the Under-23s without no locker there.
"It was very difficult. You need a very strong mindset to deal with that because you don't have any respect at the club. Using the word 'slavery' is too much, but it was very difficult. That's all I can say."
Niasse is over the worst of the sorry situation now, but the former Lokomotiv Moscow hitman will play no part in Everton's monumental clash against Southampton on Sunday (26 November), after being slapped with a retrospective two-match ban after 'successfully deceiving' an official to win a penalty in his side's 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace last weekend.