Meyer spent six months in charge at Welford Road before stepping down for family reasons in 2009 with two-and-a-half years of his contract remaining.
Despite the short nature of that stay, the 44-year-old credits the Tigers for rekindling a love of the game which ultimately led to his appointment as Springboks coach.
Meyer quit rugby after being overlooked for the top Springboks job in 2008 but was tempted back into coaching by the Premiership club and later moved on to Pretoria-based Blue Bulls.
Meyer said: "Without being a great politician, I had an unbelievable time at Leicester.
"The way they treated me and carried me on their hands in difficult times there - I have just got the best things to say about Leicester.
"The public and the board were brilliant from day one.
"I will always be thankful for Leicester because if it wasn't for them I wouldn't have been back in rugby.
"I thought at one stage it was the end of the road, I had done my dues and it was time to get into something else.
"But the way they treated me and brought me back into rugby, I will always be thankful for them."
English audiences did not see the best of Meyer, who has a strong track record of success in the South African domestic game.
Yet he does not feel any need to prove a point in the three-Test series against England, which begins in Durban on Saturday.
And with nine Leicester players in the England squad, Meyer is looking forward to renewing acquaintances with some familiar faces.
He said: "It is great to see a lot of those youngsters I coached, such as Dan Cole and Benny Youngs, coming through. I am proud of what they have achieved.
"There is a bigger picture than just South African rugby. As a coach you are there for everyone and you need to improve guys you work with.
"I am really looking forward to the end of the tour and going to England to meet up with friends.
"That is something we miss in the new era. Although it is professional, I still believe it is just a game and you need to build those relationships.
"I don't want to prove anything, I just want my guys to play the best they can, to their best of their abilities."
Meyer, appointed in January in succession to Peter de Villiers, has named three uncapped forwards in his first team selection.
Locks Juandre Kruger and Eben Etzebeth were both included in the side for the first Test at Kings Park along with flanker Marcell Coetzee.
A fourth newcomer, prop Coenie Oosthuizen, could make his first appearance off the bench.
The players add a new dimension to an otherwise experienced side following a series of retirements and injuries.
The starting 15 still boasts a combined total of 458 Test caps with nine of the players that featured in last year's World Cup quarter-final against Australia retained.
The other main issue was the decision to hand the vice-captaincy to hooker Bismarck du Plessis.
Du Plessis is one of the world's best number twos but has still faced a battle for that position and the vice-captain's role from Adriaan Strauss, who will be on the bench.
Meyer announced earlier in the week that the side would be captained by centre Jean de Villiers throughout the three-Test series.
Meyer said: "I've been coaching for 20 years and this has probably been the best week.
"The attitude of the players has been the best I have ever seen and I am not just saying that because it is the Springboks.
"Obviously there are butterflies but as long as those butterflies fly in the same direction I am all right.
"It is more excitement than nervousness. It is a huge responsibility but I can't wait to go."
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