Lingard: The Class of '92 were amazing motivation
Manchester United forward Jesse Lingard says the Class of '92 were vital to his own development as an Academy hopeful, showing him a clear pathway through to the first team.
The England international joined us for the latest edition of our 'My Inspiration' series, where the senior players talk about who helped them reach the top and how they were inspired along the way.
Jesse was keen to stress just how encouraging it was to see several young local lads in Sir Alex Ferguson's team during the late 90s and early 2000s, as the Reds won trophy after trophy.
Lingard was then just an aspiring young Warrington kid in the United Academy, but he watched on closely as Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, David Beckham, Nicky Butt and the Neville brothers blazed a trail for homegrown footballers.
The 27-year-old, who has now made over 200 appearances for his boyhood club, also spoke about the importance of family, how his lows have shaped him just as much as his successes, and also explained how work off the ball helped him become an important figure for both United and England.
Read the full Q&A below...
What inspired you to first play football?
“I think my family really. They recognised at a young age that I kicked a ball really well. After that my granddad wanted me to kick on from there. He used to take me to the astroturf and I’d practise my skills, my footwork. He used to be a tough on me as a kid, [making sure I was] not playing football in the playground and things like that. When you reach to where you are now and look back, you think maybe he was right. I’m glad he took his time out to teach me and take me on the astroturf to learn new things. He has been my inspiration from the get-go, so I’d say my granddad.”
Who were your football heroes when you were younger?
“I used to watch the likes of Ronaldinho, [Andres] Iniesta and [Lionel] Messi. But obviously coming through the club, I used to watch Giggsy, Scholesy, Becks, Butty, the Nevilles, the Class of ’92. I used to watch all the videos of them seasons at home so I had a really good understanding of how they played. They were all British players and they reached the top and won trophies, so it was really inspiring for me to look at that at a young age and I thought ‘I’m young, but eventually I’ll be in their position and I want to know how they do it’. So I’d say the Class of ’92 were an inspiration for me at that young age.”
Was there any particular player you modelled parts of your game on?
“Obviously you watch players and try and take something from their game to yours. Each player individually has their own talent and ability. You can watch players and take different elements of people's game and try and add them into yours. Sometimes I watch Messi off the ball and see how sharp he is.”
What do you think about to help you go the distance in a game?
"The main thing is to concentrate on the game, to get the win. That’s the most important thing. I just think all the lows that I’ve had, I’m here now, coming onto the pitch and doing what I love doing best. I love playing football and I’m at Man United, so you try and be positive in that aspect and your family are there watching. You’ve just got to go out there and enjoy it, take the positives."
Who do you most look forward to sharing your successes with?
"My family really. They’ve put a lot in to look after me and to get me to where I am. When I do well, they all do well, so it’s good to have them all on board with me."
What words or phrases best describe you as a player?
"I feel like I’m intelligent on the pitch. I like to pick up spaces, little pockets where defenders can’t really get to you. I’m a player that can affect the game off the ball and help others. When I do make the run it can open up the space and help other players. I do like being on the ball, I like trying to make things happen, so it’s kind of a mixture really."
What is the most inspiring thing about Manchester United?
"I think when I was coming through, the history of the club stuck out a lot to me. The amount of trophies that had been won over the years was so inspiring. As a young lad coming through at that time, you can see the success, you know it’s there and you can’t wait to work hard to get into their shoes and be winning trophies as well. We go through different stages of life where things change, managers come in and life transitions but as a club we have that backing behind us. We do have that never-say-die attitude. We have that hunger to win."
What is the one piece of advice you’d pass on to any young footballer?
"I think believe in yourself, number one. Obviously you’ve got to work hard, practise. Work on your weakness and stay behind after training. Work hard, carry on practising and have the confidence in your ability that you can make it and your dreams can come true."