Ince joined Derby in the January transfer window on loan from Hull City for the rest of the 2014-15 season.
The 23-year-old attacker signed for the Rams on a permanent contract in the summer, and he has highlighted why he is thankful to McClaren, who is now in charge of Newcastle United.
“Steve McClaren brought me here on loan last season, and all I needed was a chance to show what I could do," Ince added.
"Fans and people who watched Derby last season saw the Thomas Ince that was at Blackpool - exciting people, scoring goals, creating goals, and all I needed was a chance and a manager who believed in what I could do, and appreciated how I play.”
Ince scored 11 goals and created 24 chances in 18 Championship appearances for Derby last season.
So far this campaign, the former Liverpool prospect has scored two goals and created 23 chances in eight league games for the Rams.
Ince appears to have more confidence at Derby than he has had at his previous clubs, and McClaren should be given credit.
It was a gamble from the Englishman, but it has paid off big time for Derby, who are in good form at the moment and should be backed for a top-two finish in the Championship this season.