Andreas Christensen believes his two-year loan spell at Borussia Monchengladbach was pivotal for his development as he prepares to potentially be thrown into Chelsea's crunch Premier League clash with Manchester City.
Christensen has been a regular in the first team for Chelsea this season, making eight appearances in all competitions, with manager Antonio Conte saying he will have no problem selecting the centre-back for Saturday's Stamford Bridge showdown with the league leaders.
He spent the previous two seasons at Gladbach and face City four times in the Champions League during his time in Germany, though the visitors will be without star man Sergio Aguero on this occasion after he was involved in a car crash.
"They were Champions League matches, big games against the best players," said Denmark international Christensen of that quartet of meetings, of which City won three and the other ended in a draw.
"It was what I wanted and good for me. But will it help me for this match? I don't know because, now, they know more about me as well."
On his time in Germany, Christensen added: "I knew teams wanted me on loan, but that a two-year [arrangement] would be more appropriate for me. I wanted one year to settle in and establish myself and another to play regularly and really go for it.
"It was two seasons at a high level. Chelsea kept looking after me, getting the videos and texting every day about how I was doing. Eddie Newton and Paulo Ferreira did a great job with me.
"Facing the strikers in the Bundesliga and two years in the Champions League as well got me so much experience. The club could not have done any more than they did in terms of helping me on the right path.
"But, as a player, you have to take responsibility for yourself as well and do what is best for you. You can't expect everything to be given to you and you have to perform when you get the chance. I grew up a bit too, looking after myself. The whole thing was a life experience.
"I was facing top strikers in the Bundesliga and that was a new thing for me. Then it was Sergio Aguero and Manchester City in the Champions League and they made it difficult for us.
"But it helped me understand what will hopefully come more often in the future, and that's something I'm looking forward to. I want to play against the top, top strikers."
Christensen has established himself in the first team despite the arrival of Antonio Rudiger, having previously been overlooked by Jose Mourinho.
"It was probably only before I went on holiday this summer that I wondered if I'd get a chance," said the 21-year-old. "But the manager showed me he trusts me and he has a great passion for me to deliver. I've been involved pretty much from the start so, right now, I'm happy.
"When I was first at Chelsea as a first-team player [under Mourinho in 2014-15] I wasn't even in the squad all the time. You always have to go and look at the list and sometimes you are in the squad and sometimes not. Now I feel much more like a Chelsea player.
"It's a new staff and they need to get to know me, but I'm getting a lot of playing time and I have to keep going and show I am entitled to more."