MATURE, thoughtful and level-headed. From the outside, perhaps not adjectives you might have associated with Ryan Porteous even a little over a year ago before he swapped boyhood club Hibernian for English Championship football with Watford.

The 24-year-old gained a reputation as something of a hot-head – fairly or unfairly – during his time in the Scottish Premiership, but he long ago developed selective hearing when it comes to critiques of his ability and temperament.

Now, a little older and a little wiser than before, Porteous is engaging and thoughtful when he considers his journey to date.

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As well as the change of environment, it has been his ability to block out the noise and focus on what those whose opinions he does value are telling him that has allowed him to develop into a key player for his club and now, his country. The rashness that was once so readily associated with his game is fast becoming but a fading memory of his fledgling years at Easter Road.

“Folk have always kind of said that, but no one really important to me has ever really told me that,” Porteous said.

“A manager has never said ‘take that out your game’ or ‘completely change it’ or even told me off for it.

“That’s all kind of paper talk or from pundits who don’t really know me. If they were willing to give me advice to my face, I would listen to it.

“These kinds of things, I’ve never really listened to it, I always just tried to focus on what was going on inside.

“English football, especially The Championship, it’s very robust. There are a lot of challenges flying about from all angles, so I’d like to see what people would think of some of the games that we play.

“I’ve said it a hundred times before, it’s something that’s in my game and it’s something you don’t want to take out your game, but there are moments in everyone’s career you look back on and you’ve made a rash tackle.

“Everybody has had it, but I think it’s probably been headlined at me more for some reason, but it’s something you can hopefully learn from if need be.”

He certainly seems to be learning at a rate of knots, with his accomplished performances in the dark blue of Scotland winning over many of his previously harshest critics.

“Hopefully I’m getting better at everything,” he said.

“From being a young boy breaking through at Hibs I had a lot to work on, and I still have a lot more to work on now.

“But you want to try to get to an age in your mid-twenties when you are starting to consolidate these things in your game.

“It might not be massive tweaks, but these small tweaks at this level can go far.

“I feel as though my game is coming on. I’m learning different styles of football with different managers.

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“I’ve gone through a couple of managers here already and you can look on that in a bad way, but I see that as leaning different types of philosophies and different ways of playing from top coaches.

“I feel I’m developing at a rate that I’m quite happy with.”

It begs the question over whether the noise and the headlines that did surround him while north of the border was something he felt he had to escape in order to further his career. But again, his selective hearing proved a handy asset when he was at the centre of those storms, and he insists the call was made for purely football reasons.

“That never really occurred to me,” he said.

“There was always sort of noise when I was in Scotland, but never really much noise from the club.

“I never really paid too much attention and it was never really a driving force behind why I wanted to leave Scotland.

“I wanted to leave Scotland to make a step in my career that would benefit it, and I feel it has.

“I feel like I’ve progressed massively in the short time I’ve been down here, so I don’t think that was ever really a driving factor for me in leaving Scotland.

“It came at a time where I was more than ready to make the step down there into a different climate, a different environment, and I feel like I’ve taken it in my stride.

“Obviously there are difficulties in everything when you make a big change like that, but I’ve really enjoyed it.

“I’ve got a lot of football to look forward to this coming season, and hopefully I can put my stamp more so this season on what I do for Watford.”

Ryan Porteous has teamed up with EE on the Connected Club Cup, an Esports FIFA competition which saw grassroots gamers battle it out to become the men’s and women’s Connected Club Cup champions.