Manchester United midfielder Jesse Lingard has spoken about the toughest moment of his career so far – and how it shaped him to become the player he is today.
After his best season with United to date, Lingard is making waves with England at the World Cup in Russia and scored a spectacular goal in Sunday's 6-1 win over Panama.
In an interview with England’s official YouTube channel, the Reds no.14 revealed he found it difficult to adapt when he made the step up to the United first team in the 2015/16 campaign.
“When I was first in the United team, I wasn't scoring goals and I wasn't making an impact. Negativity comes with that. It's just about overcoming negativity. Blocking it all out,” he said.
“Now I don't care about people’s opinions. As long as I'm performing, and the manager is happy, that is all that matters. They are the people that you trust the most. As long as you do your job, no negativity should come your way.”
Despite taking time to find his feet at first-team level, Lingard has developed into one of our most important and consistent players, netting 13 goals for the Reds in 2017/18. And the 25-year-old has passed on some words of wisdom to youngsters trying to make their way in the game.
“My advice would be to concentrate on football. Things outside of football don’t matter, it’s all about when you are on the pitch,
“ he said.
“You’ve got to stay concentrated and practice day in, day out, especially on your weaknesses. Stay loyal to it and keep working hard and take advice from the right people.”
‘My brother always grabs the big moments’Video
Jesse knows all too well about the importance of role models in football, just as he had when coming through the United youth teams.
“The Scholeses, the Giggses, Rios, Rooney when I was coming through the ranks, they were always there for support.
“ he said. ”To have them there, giving you advice, and training with them as well, it put me in good stead for now.”
Jesse's goal against Panama – a brilliant curled effort from the edge of the box – was reminiscent of his strike for United at Goodison Park on New Year's Day.
“It was amazing,” said the attacker of his first World Cup finals goal.
“From where I was to now, you work hard for times like this, so you’ve got to enjoy those moments.
“I had a feeling (it was going in). It was a similar goal to the one I scored against Everton for United, so it was under my feet and I had to dig it out. I knew by the flight of the ball that it had a chance of going in.
“It’s one of the highlights of my career. The FA Cup goal (in the 2016 final against Crystal Palace) was important. My first England goal (against the Netherlands in March) was also important.”
The Three Lions are preparing for their clash against Belgium on Thursday, when Jesse will come up against some familiar faces in Romelu Lukaku and Marouane Fellaini.
“I think this is a test to see how far we can go,
“ he added. ”We're both through, so we don't know how this game is going to be. For us, obviously we want to win the game - that's the important thing. We've got to prepare right this week. Come game time, we'll be 100% ready.
“With the team that we have got, it is exciting and it's young. We don't know how far we can go and I think that is the expectation of the fans. They are watching and wondering. They are enjoying watching us play and do our bit on the pitch.”