The winger joined from West Ham in January 2009 and admitted months later that he had accrued gambling debts of around £1.5million.
But Etherington has been steered away from problems off the field and his performances have been telling, with Stoke seeing the one-time teenage sensation fulfil the potential he was always reckoned to have.
The player's own family have been a major factor behind the upturn in fortunes, but Pulis also believes Stoke's owners, headed by chairman Peter Coates, deserve credit for bringing the best out of the 29-year-old former Tottenham and Peterborough man.
"He's been a quality player and very, very good for us," Pulis said.
"He's got his life sorted out off the pitch, and you've got to give the Coates family great, great credit for getting involved with that and as a football club giving him the help he needed.
"I think Matty will always appreciate what this football club has done for him off the field.
"We've cleared everything out of the way so he can see clearly in respect of his life.
"Matty's a professional footballer and we've allowed him to concentrate on that which has born fruit for us as a team and as a football club.
"I think if Matty was playing now for, say, Tottenham or one of the top teams in the country then he would definitely get recognition."
But Pulis will not be pressing England boss Capello to summon the Potters wideman for next month's Wembley friendly against France, or the rest of the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign.
The Italian could already have had his head turned by Etherington, but a call-up at this stage of his career may be a long shot, particularly given England have Stewart Downing and Adam Johnson as left-footed wing options.
Pulis said: "I'm not picking Capello's team. He's a great manager with a great career and I'm sure he'll qualify for the European Nations Cup with or without Matty."
Etherington is expected to be fit after a back problem, which forced him to miss the Carling Cup defeat at West Ham, to line up tomorrow for Stoke at Everton.
Like Stoke, the Premier League table shows Everton are in mid-table, but just one point separates both teams from third-bottom Liverpool, so tight is the division in its early stages.
Pulis sees Everton as the epitome of what any club looking to establish themselves in the Premier League should aim for.
"Really they're a model for so-called smaller clubs to follow," Pulis said.
"What the chairman has done there and what David (Moyes) has done there is something to look at really seriously and say, well that's the way to build a football club.
"They've been very, very successful over the years, they've had loads of stability. It's built on a very solid foundation.
"David seems very very happy there, very contented. It seems to be a football club in the respect that everyone pulls together.
"I think it's something Peter Coates and family at this football club aspire to in lots of respects.
"All the basics that we talk about really represents the way Everton football club is run.
"It's a stable ship and they've improved every year. They've got a good squad and they'll end up being in the top six or seven by the time the season finishes, I have absolutely no doubt about that."
Stoke are coming off three straight defeats - two in the Premier League against Bolton and Manchester United, and the midweek cup setback at Upton Park.
Stoke have had a foothold in each match, only to concede costly late goals, and Pulis wants his team to sharpen up.
"Football-wise and the way the team's shaping up I think we're a better team than we were last year," he said.
"We're coming close in games and then for whatever reason we're getting punished.
"The Premier League is such a tough league to play in, you're playing against top players coached by top people, and if you don't concentrate for 94 minutes, 93 minutes or whatever, you get punished."