Paterson made his international debut against Spain in 2007 but the combination of recurring injury problems and an uncertain place in former manager Nigel Worthington's pecking order meant he made a faltering start to life at the highest level.
Indeed, it was not until the arrival of Michael O'Neill in the dugout that Paterson really found his feet.
He scored his first Northern Ireland goal from the penalty spot to secure a 3-3 friendly draw against Finland last August and has started the last four World Cup qualifiers.
The 26-year-old has netted twice in that period, a match-winning header against Russia at Windsor Park and the opening goal in last month's disappointing 3-2 defeat in Luxembourg.
He will be looking to add to that tally against Azerbaijan in Baku on Friday night, having been handed a vote of confidence he has sometimes lacked at club level.
Paterson signed for Huddersfield in the summer but has yet to score, having been played too often on the wing or as a substitute
"You could probably say I've played my rightful position for my country and in other places maybe I haven't," said Paterson.
"I'm comfortable in the set-up and really enjoying my football with Northern Ireland.
"Club things maybe haven't gone to plan due to a number of things that I cannot control, but playing for your country and scoring goals...there's not a bigger stage and there's not a better feeling.