Jesse: I’ll always keep fighting

Jesse Lingard admitted recently that times have been tough for him on and off the pitch this season, but the Manchester United midfielder insists he’s never been one to shy away from a fight.

The 27-year-old has been in and out of the team at times this term after revealing he had issues to focus on outside of football.

He came off the bench in the final Premier League game of the campaign, away to Leicester City, and helped ensure the Reds booked a vital Champions League spot with an injury-time strike to seal a 2-0 victory.

Jesse, who is a confirmed starter for Wednesday’s Europa League clash at home to LASK, spoke to MUTV’s Mark Sullivan this week as he reflected on a memorable afternoon at the King Power Stadium.

“I’ve worked hard since lockdown and little things like that with the goal, pressing them in the last minute, you get your rewards for all the hard work you’ve done,” he explained. “Of course it’s given me confidence and spurred me on, and I’m just looking forward to playing again and getting back out there on the pitch and helping the team.

“It’s not just footballers,” he added when asked about his struggles this season. “Every day people struggle. It’s easy to give up and quit but I’m not the type of person to do that. I’d rather fight. I’ve always had to fight all my life, even from the age of seven coming through the ranks here. For me, it was about never giving up, keep working hard and be patient for an opportunity.”

The Reds already hold a commanding five-goal lead over Wednesday night’s opponents, but Lingard insists winning remains United’s only focus. The remainder of the Europa League will be played out as a mini-tournament in Germany from next week and Jesse feels there is no reason why the team cannot repeat our 2017 triumph.

“The pressure is off a little bit [having qualified for the Champions League already], but we as Man United want to win trophies and the Europa League is a special tournament and we want to come away from the season with silverware under our belt,” he declared.

“Tournament football is a lot different to club football and like I say you have to adapt quickly to the surroundings and things like that. The majority of the team has experienced tournament football, maybe when they were younger or even recently. So everyone has a taste for it and will be able to adapt pretty quickly to it.

“Since football has been back everything has been a lot different without the fans and the atmosphere and things like that. It’ll be another new experience for us to handle but I’m sure we’ll adapt in the right way and I'm sure everyone’s mindset is to win every game. That’s all we can think of. We’ve just got to keep working hard and get our game-plan set and go into it full of confidence.

“The best feelings of being a footballer is to lift silverware,” he added. “We’ve already lifted the Europa League and had that experience and it took a lot of hard work. The team stuck together through the hard times and the good ones, and we got through it in the end, and I don’t see why we can’t win it again.”

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