MADRID, March 22 (Xinhua) -- Real Sociedad's 27-year-old midfielder Asier Illaramendi had two difficult seasons at Real Madrid before returning two seasons ago to the club where he had spent the rest of his career.
Back in San Sebastian he rediscovered the form that he struggled to produce in the capital and his performances this season have earned him his first call up into the Spain national side for the forthcoming games against Israel and France.
"I have matured and I am not as young as I was, I have learned from what happened to me. You have to learn from everything," the midfielder said in an interview with the El Mundo newspaper on Wednesday.
He explained that there were "phases in my career where for one reason or other, I wasn't at such a high level," but insisted he had "good memories," of Real Madrid, although he admitted that at times he had "lacked confidence."
"Confidence is what makes us better or worse, but I have learned from that... I would have liked things to have gone better, but what happened has happened and I am enjoying my football again," explained Illaramendi, who added the international call up was a "reward" for his form in his hometown club.
His return to Real Sociedad for around half of the price Real Madrid paid for him coincided with a season of struggle as the side from San Sebastian battled to avoid relegation. But with fewer injuries and a settled side, this season sees them battling to qualify for Europe under the guidance of coach Eusebio Sacristan.
"I am very happy at Real Sociedad, the club where I grew up," insisted Illaramendi, when asked about whether he would move to another "big" club.
"I still have this season and then another four years on my contract," he said. "Last season we suffered a lot, but we have played well this time around and I hope it carries on like this every year because we deserve it."