Harry Maguire reveals how League One experience with Sheffield United set him on the path to England stardom
It is almost five years to the day since England's Harry Maguire was part of the Sheffield United team that lost 1-0 to Carlisle United in League One '“Â but he insists he wouldn't change his time in the third tierÂ with the Blades for the world.
Instead, as he prepared for England's Nations League clash against Switzerland at his now-home of Leicester City's King Power Stadium, he believes it helped set him on the path to the national side, which culminated in a World Cup semi-final appearance this summer.
"To play in League One in every game when I was 18 was massive for my development," Maguire said.
"It's something I'm very proud of. I have great memories and it was a great experience.
"If it didn't happen for me back then, I probably wouldn't be where I am now.
"Obviously with the last five or six years of football...Â I do pinch myself.Â
"Playing in League One week in week out, then I get an England Under-21 call-up and I'm pinching myself with that.
"Then playing in Premier League, you pinch yourself again.
"The ladder just keeps going. It's nice to sign a new deal at Leicester and to be rewarded for the great season we had last season as a team as well."
Maguire signed a new five-year deal at Leicester City recently, after establishing himself at both Premier League and international level.
He made his debut for United in the Championship as an 18-year-old, after the Blades had already been relegated to League One, and was an integral part of United's side in League One alongside centre-half partner Neill Collins.Â
He scored a penalty in United's play-off final shoot-out defeat to Huddersfield Town at Wembley, and eventually joined Hull City for Â£2.5m. After helping the Tigers into the Premier League '“Â winning the play-off final against Sheffield Wednesday at Wembley '“ he joined Leicester in a deal worth around Â£17m when Hull were relegated, and played a starring role as Gareth Southgate's England reached the World Cup semi-finals in Russia.
"You can see what we are building," MaguireÂ added, in an interview with BBC Five Live.
"He [Southgate]Â is trying to put his style on the game. The big tournaments are the ones we are going to get judged on mainly.
"You see in the summer we performed, we got to a level where we reached a World Cup semi-final.
"People say you have got to be patient, but it was pretty soon in terms of reaching a World Cup semi-final from where we were at in recent years.
"I think we are just building as a team and the way we are playing and I think we can push on now."