George Saville says playing alongside the likes of Steve David, Gareth McAuley and Chris Brunt has helped mould him into the player he is today.
The 25-year-old has become Northern Ireland’s most expensive player following his £8million pound switch to Middlesbrough from Millwall.
And Saville feels playing for Northern Ireland has alongside the Premier League stars, has boosted his career.
“Being with the boys who have been in the Premier League for years like Davo, Gareth McAuley, Brunty when he was here,” he said.
“Even Ollie Norwood we have top quality players here and you learn from them.
“Being in a different environment you are not in your comfort zone like in club football and I feel I have progressed as a player and off the field too. This has helped me gain experience I need.
“Being on the international stage can only help you, It won’t do you any harm and obviulsy the nation has been on a fantastic run in the last couple of years.
“We talk about the players coming in and the strong squad we have at the moment. For me it is brilliant to be part of that and helped me individually as well.”
Saville has made huge progress over the last 12 months since moving to Millwall before his multi-million pound switch to Teeside and establishing himself in Michael O’Neill’s international set-up.
“In football things happen really quickly,” he said.
“You could go 18 months to two years ago not playing to now being at Middlesbrough and an international footballer.
“You see the likes of Harry Maguire in the summer. There are loads of examples.
“Football changes quickly. For me it is about progressing and so far so good.”
The only blot on Saville’s copybook was missing out on the World Cup in the summer.
He admitted it was hard to watch Switzerland in action in Russia after they pipped Northern Ireland to qualification.
“It was a blow watching them play at the World Cup in the summer,” he said.
“I was quite bitter watching them play if I’m being honest, knowing ifs buts and maybes but that’s gone now.
“I know we didn’t get there, but that will give us the experience and things we we need to learn ahead of the next campaign which is the European Championships.”
Saville knows there will be a lot of expectation on the squad to make it through to the Euros again.
But he says it show how highly thought of this current crop of players are by people.
“It shows as a squad we are doing something right,” said Saville.
“The boys, eh management, everyone; we’re going in the right direction to have expectations on ourselves we must be winning games and going in the right direction.
“That can only be a positive.
“You can take negatives or positives from anything but we take that with positivity and we’ll take that into the campaign and go into it with no fear.”