McClaren, hired by the Rams this week after Nigel Clough was sacked, delivered an impromptu half-time team talk that inspired his new side to come from three goals down and rescue a 4-4 draw with Ipswich in the Championship on Tuesday night.
The 52-year-old endured ridicule after failing to guide England to the 2008 European Championship, but went on win the Eredivisie in Holland with FC Twente, becoming the first English first-team coach since the late Sir Bobby Robson to lift a league title abroad.
A 111-day stint at Forest was further fuel for his critics but McClaren says he is ready to seek redemption at a club where he was a player in the 1980s and, a decade later, assistant manager to Jim Smith.
"I've spoken to other England managers and we stick together. We're like a club and we understand that when we take the job, you have to take the consequences," said McClaren.
"We're targets, rightly so, because we're the front people. The England job is magnified 10 times more than club football. Time heals, and it has.
"There is life after England. I went to FC Twente and proved that. But you get stigmatised as an ex-England manager.
"I had my opportunities. I could've stayed abroad and I feel my reputation abroad is better than what it is in England, but I wanted to come back.
"I've learned lessons from the last time I was in England with Nottingham Forest. I made mistakes there and tried to change too much, too quickly. I didn't bide my time. But that was entirely my fault, nobody else's."
Prior to getting the England job, McClaren helped Derby win promotion to the Premier League during the 1995/96 season, before leaving to become Sir Alex Ferguson's assistant at Manchester United, where he was part of the 1999 treble-winning team.
He won the League Cup with Middlesbrough in 2004 - still the club's only major trophy in its history - and two years later guided Boro to the UEFA Cup final.
"I have had a lot of highs and a lot of lows, but that's normal," he added.
"I can coach, but I've also proved I can manage. I've proved I can be successful, but I've also proved I can fail.
"I'm not desperate to change people's opinions, I don't feel I have anything to prove. As you get older, you get wiser. I know what I can do.
"And what I want to do here is put a Derby team out that excites the fans. We want to get the fans excited because they are the most important people.
"It is about giving the fans some excitement. It is about bringing players in who get people off their seats. That is the dream and I am excited we have the opportunity to do that with good people here."