Luke Shaw says he came through a "very hard time" under former Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho.
As United ascended to the role of Premier League title contenders this season, one of their surprise cornerstones has been Shaw.
His performance in the recent 0-0 draw with Liverpool at Anfield was the high-point of an impressive campaign from the former Southampton man.
During Mourinho's two-and-a-half reign at Old Trafford, Shaw battled for form and fitness making only 34 Premier League appearances under the now Tottenham boss.
"It was a very hard time a couple of years back when I wasn’t playing, when I wasn’t even involved," the 25-year old told BBC Sport ahead of Tuesday night's FA Cup tie with West Ham.
"I always believed in myself. There were times where maybe people were thinking ‘maybe he could leave’, but I always believed that one day I would be able to fight my way back into the team and show people what my qualities are.
“I feel like I am starting to do that now but there is still more to come.
"I’m still quite young and have time to improve."
Mourinho made a habit of singling Shaw out for criticism during his underwhelming spell in charge of United.
Following a 1-1 draw with Everton in April 2017, Mourinho said of Shaw's performance, "He was in front of me and I was making every decision for him.
"He has to change his football brain."
Mourinho added, "We need his fantastic physical and technical qualities but he cannot play with my brain."
Shaw said of those trying years, "It was difficult because I wasn’t able to get my word across.
“A lot of people were behind me here, so I knew I had that backing, but I just needed to keep my head down and keep quiet.
“People were saying negative things about me but I just look back at it as a learning curve and something that has improved me as a person off the pitch, not just on it.
“You always have some doubts. I have been very unfortunate to pick up the injuries I have had but I’ve always believed I can be an important player here.
“You want to be here and showing people what you can do. Hopefully I can keep doing that and proving people wrong.”