McClaren is the most successful manager in Boro history, having guided them to their only ever major trophy when they captured the League Cup in 2004.
McClaren left Middlesbrough for an ill-fated spell in charge of England, before again bolstering his reputation on the continent.
Now in charge at Derby, he admits his time at the Riverside is still special to him.
"Those years will always live with me. We want to do something at Derby now like we did at Boro," said McClaren - whose Derby host Boro on Wednesday.
"It was a fantastic time. It was my first job and I was very fortunate my first chairman Steve Gibson was one of the best chairmen anybody could have.
"A fantastic chairman - one voice, one man, one owner - he built the club, took it over for the town. He believes it is a community club.
"We had some fantastic European nights at the Riverside. They were really special. Probably more special now looking back than when we were going through it.
"I went there looking to rebuild and it took a good two years to turn it around.
"It was credit to Steve Gibson who gave us the time and resources to do it. It was a great five years."