Jesse: We're human, not robots

Saturday 02 October 2021 09:00

It's fair to say Jesse Lingard looks back on the last year in particular with a huge sense of pride at having come through one of the most difficult times in his career.

Our no.14 sat down with us to reflect on his time in football to date and the last 12 months, as well as discussing his recent fine form and goals.

Earlier this year, Lingard had openly discussed the issues he had going on in his personal life and the impact that was having on his play.

Rather than resting his laurels, he took it upon himself to embark on a temporary new challenge on loan with West Ham. Goals, assists and an England recall followed, as did a return to United and more goals and good form this term, for club and country.

In a wide-ranging chat, Jesse reflected on his successful loan spell with the Hammers and how it's acted as a springboard on his return to Old Trafford.

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"I think people on the outside think we’re robots, but we’re human beings at the end of the day," he said. "Things can happen off the field that can obviously affect your physical performance on the field and your mental performance as well, but if you hide and try and brave it with a smile, it’s never good. At the time, I just wasn’t me, even my own family could see it wasn’t me; I was doing things that I’d never done in my whole life and it was just one of those phases I went through and I had to try and pick myself up and get back on my feet. I spoke to the manager at various times about getting me out on loan in January because I wasn’t getting the game-time at United. 

"He allowed that and then it was just about me knuckling down and focusing on what I needed to do at West Ham, and that was to do well, score goals, make assists and try and break back into the England side. From the start of the season not being in the England side to the end of the season getting into the 33 [man squad] before the Euros was a massive achievement and it just showed what you can do with hard work, concentration and dedication.
"When you’re at your lowest, you think you’re never going to get out of that, but there’s always an option to do that. Like I say you’ve just got to bite the bullet and grit your teeth and knuckle down and that’s what I did. As soon as I went on loan I was ready from the get-go to play. The lads were brilliant there, I knew David Moyes from United and he gave me that freedom to go and play, and that licence to entertain.

"Obviously I’m contracted at United and to come back after being at West Ham I was confident and I’m still confident now," he added. "I feel in form at the moment and with the minutes I’ve got I’ve done well. I’m raring to go and ready to play."

Lingard has experienced the ups and down that football can throw up in recent times with a difficult night at Young Boys followed by coming off the bench to net a glorious winner, ironically, against last season's loan side West Ham.

"That’s what I’m saying about football – look how quickly there’s another game and how you can bounce back. Obviously, it was a mistake [against Young Boys], and it’s probably the worst mistake I’ve made in my whole career playing football, to be honest. But things like that happen, it’s a mistake, we’re human, I didn’t see the guy and obviously he’s scored.

"Of course, you’re going to get people chatting rubbish online, but I don’t read into that, I’m too grown up for that now. I got back on the training pitch the next day and back to work and I concentrated on facing West Ham, and that’s how it is. That’s football; you get a chance to redeem yourself and bounce back and I thought I did that in great style."

Read more from Jesse in Saturday's United Review and look out for the full interview online soon.