Jesse Lingard: “There wasn’t ever a point I thought I’d missed my chance at United”
The 25-year-old Lingard didn’t become a regular starter at Old Trafford until the tail end of the 2015/16 season, but has gradually increased his playing time since then and last season turned out 48 times in all competitions for Jose Mourinho’s Red Devils.
In 2012, former boss Alex Ferguson was prophetic in declaring that Lingard “will become a player when he’s 22 or so”, and compared him to former France international Jean Tigana.
Lingard enjoyed a fine World Cup as one of England’s key men in Russia, and says patience was all he needed to thrive in the long-term.
Speaking exclusively in the September 2018 issue of FourFourTwo magazine, in shops and available on iPad, Lingard says: “It was hard at first, but you realise you eventually get the rewards. Everything is a learning experience, you pick things up on the way and it all prepares you for when you’re older.
“There wasn’t ever a point I thought I’d missed my chance. United knew I was a late developer, and when I got to 23 you started seeing the real Jesse.”
Lingard was handed a four-year contract at Old Trafford in April 2017 having scored only once and got two assists that season – news which was greeted with howls of derision on social media.
But the Manchester United attacking midfielder says the critics didn't get to him – and never will.
“When I was in the first team I wasn’t really scoring goals or having an impact,” he tells FFT.
“Negativity comes with that and you have to overcome it – you have to block it out. I’ve learned that I don’t care about other opinions – as long as I’m doing well on the pitch and the manager’s happy, that’s all that matters.”
The September 2018 issue of FourFourTwo is available in shops now, featuring the rest of this interview with Jesse Lingard and other exclusive interviews with Christian Eriksen and Roberto Firmino. James Milner is our featured One-on-One, find out how Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa inspired Pep, Poch and Simeone, and read Ryan Mason’s first-hand account of his life-changing head injury. All that and more in the latest FFT. Subscribe!