Sean Longstaff says he had to leave Newcastle United – so he could come back a first-team player.
The midfielder has signed a new four-year contract at the club after impressing in the summer on his return from a loan at Blackpool.
Longstaff scored nine goals from 45 appearances for the League One club.
The 21-year-old – who was on the bench against West Ham United at the weekend – had had a spell at Scottish Premiership club Kilmarnock the previous season.
And North Shields-born Longstaff believes those loans prepared him for the rigours of first-team football at Newcastle.
"I can honestly say that if I hadn't gone out on loan, there'd be no chance of me being in the first team now," said Longstaff, who made his senior competitive debut in the club's Carabao Cup tie against Nottingham Forest in August.
"I think it's what you have to do. You have to prove to the staff here and prove to the lads that you can be trusted in those situations.
"That's the only way you're going to learn – by doing it on a Saturday-Tuesday in some not very nice places or grounds.
"That's the only way for us young lads to get up here (to first-team squad), unless you're unbelievably talented, like Rolando (Aarons), who came straight through.
"I think everybody's got to go out on loan and put in those hard yards to come back up here and get a chance.
"I've done that now. It's at least allowed me to spend six months with the first team and learn a different side to the game and a different style. Every young lads should be looking to do that."
Longstaff – who will play in tomorrow night's Checkatrade Trophy tie against Macclesfield Town at St James's Park if he's not needed for the midweek Premier League game against Everton at Goodison Park – is now focused on taking the next steps at his boyhood club.
"I'm over the moon, obviously," said Longstaff. "I was coming into my last year and trying to get it sorted. Happily, it's all done.
"I can't wait to carry on the hard work and keep learning and improving and try to get into the team in the future."
The club opened contract talks with Longstaff in the summer.
Longstaff said: "We'd been talking since the summer.
"Then going out on loan or not going out on loan, I wanted to get my football done first, and when I ended up staying, it gave a bit more time to get it sorted. I'm just delighted it's all done. I just focused on my football the whole time.
"That's what the manager said to me. I can now 100% focus on football – no distractions."