Patrick Bamford has told Sky Sports he may have been "a bit naive" to think he would ever be able to break into the Chelsea first team after ending five years on loan with a permanent move to Middlesbrough.
Bamford, 23, signed for Chelsea from Nottingham Forest in a £1.5 million deal in January 2012 but never made a competitive appearance for the Blues, instead spending time at MK Dons, Derby County, Middlesbrough, Crystal Palace, Norwich City and Burnley.
In the last 18 months, Bamford's career has stalled due to a lack of first-team opportunities at his loan clubs, with the young striker having made just two Premier League starts since scoring 17 goals in 38 Championship appearances for Middlesbrough in the 2014-15 season.
"My dream was to play for Chelsea -- maybe I was bit naive," Bamford said. "I still have that dream. You never know what's going to happen in the future but for now, even though I was sad to leave, it was one of the happiest days of my life.
"I was delighted to be coming back here. Now I've got to help Boro push on and see how far we can get."
Aitor Karanka was Bamford's manager in that Championship campaign at Middlesbrough and the Spaniard remains a big believer in his ability, saying he is baffled by the lack of opportunities his new striker has been granted elsewhere in the Premier League.
"I wanted him at that time and I wanted him this time," Karanka said of Bamford. "I have said always since the day that he left this club that we would have our door open always because he's a player I like a lot.
"He has that mentality that a player who plays up front needs to have. A player who plays up front needs to try to score goals and he is always trying to score goals. On the training ground, in the games, his first thought always is to play forward and we need these kind of players.
"It's a surprise that he hasn't played. He has had two starts in 18 months -- I hope we can finish the season with much, much better figures for him."