Jesse Lingard's revival is an inspirational lesson for anyone who's suffered emotionally and mentally over the past year
This story starts in 2017/2018 where Jesse Lingard was in the best form of his life. Contributing 20 goal contributions for Manchester United in all competitions. That summer he was also a part of England's historic run to the World Cup Semi-Final. Scoring a goal against Panama in the group stage.
Lingard was becoming famous for his positivity and personality. His goal celebrations were trending highly at the time because it was something different. A lot of people including myself gravitated to his personality. He became a football social media icon.
In came the "Messi Lingard" and "Lingardinho" memes. Football fans jokingly compared him to legends like Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, and Messi. These memes were made because of the way Lingard rapidly burst on the scene. During that period he seemed to be scoring or assisting a goal every week. It looked like he would be an important player for both Manchester United and England in the coming years.
Fast Forward to July 26th, 2020
On July 26th, 2020 in the final game of a COVID-19 affected season. Manchester United played Leicester City in a crucial match. Whoever won the match would qualify for the UEFA Champions League in the next season.
Jesse Lingard scored in the 98th minute to clinch the win for Manchester United against Leicester City. It was his only goal contribution of the entire season. Instead of celebration, there was a shock in the air because he finally had scored a goal. There were even people that placed bets that he would not get a goal or assist during the season. He did, but that goal really highlighted how bad of a season he really had.
How could a player who made 20 goal contributions for Manchester United in 2017/18 - while starring in England’s run to the World Cup semi-final in 2018 – fall off to this extent?
The speculation was that he wasn't focused. That his dances and social media presence were hindering his career.
No one knew at the time, but Jesse Lingard was dealing with personal issues that were having an impact on his mental health and physical performance. His mother was battling depression so he had to take care of his two brothers. In April 2021, Jesse Lingard in an interview detailed his experience during those tough times.
"I didn’t want to play because my mind wasn’t there, I wasn’t focused at all. I was thinking about other things and obviously bottling it all up; trying to play football, you can’t do it.” -Jesse Lingard
“My confidence was shot.” “You can be that happy guy, bouncing around the training ground but deep down, you’re wearing that smile as a mask." -Jesse Lingard
Now it is clear for everybody to see why Jesse Lingard wasn't performing to his best ability. When the mind isn't right it is impossible to function at a high level. It takes a lot of bravery to come out and tell everyone a story like this. I'm sure telling this story allowed him to finally start moving forward.
So, what was the next step in Jesse Lingard's career? Would he let this bad period ultimately affect his career?
The next portion shows why it's so important to have good people around you. His brother Louie showed him old clips of himself in the World Cup and told him that player has been gone for a while now. Jesse agreed, he stated that "I watched my old games back and watched the World Cup games back and I thought ‘Yeah, that’s the real Jesse Lingard.'
The goal was to get the real Jesse Lingard back. After the previous season, it was hard for Jesse Lingard to get back into the Manchester United team. Since he wasn't playing enough he was allowed to go on loan to West Ham in January.
Once he arrived at West Ham his brother Louie and Alexandros Alexiadis, coach of Greece U17s, helped Lingard turn his career around with "Project Jesse 2.0"
This was a series of objectives that Jesse had in his coming games. It started with his mentality. Including things like confidence, and belief in himself.
In the picture on the right, you can see it says "Don't Settle For Good Be Great."
During his loan at West Ham, Jesse Lingard was great. Scoring 9 goals and getting 4 assist in 16 games.
He lifted them to be a part of the fight for Champions League qualification which is a level that West Ham hasn't been to for quite some time. They ultimately qualified for the Europa League which is a huge achievement for that club.
"Project Jesse 2.0" was a success. The real Jesse Lingard was back in form and buzzing. He got his confidence and persona back after all this time. What would be the next step in his career?
There was a lot of speculation this summer that he would move permanently to West Ham. It made almost too much sense because it seemed that it was the right place for him. He was playing every game and was the focal point of the team. Going back to United where they would be high competition for places didn't seem like the best idea.
In fact, a lot of Manchester United fans had given up on him. I can say honestly I was definitely one of them. He was my favorite player from 2017 to 2019. Prior to the loan, I thought it was best for him to just find another club permanently. While he was bagging goals and assists on loan I thought to myself "Why couldn't he do this for us?"
So here he is back at Manchester United after a great loan. With fans kind of a 50/50 feeling about him being back in the United squad. One person who is not 50/50 about Lingard is Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
It was such a good loan that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has no plans to let him leave. He sees Lingard as a vital player for Manchester United going forward.
“We really want to see the best of Jesse this season, and we hope to see him, we support him, and we hope to keep him here with us. He’s a Red through and through.” -Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
So far this season he has been vital. Just this weekend he scored the game-winning goal against a certain team in the Premier League. Can you guess who? West Ham.
It was written in the starts for this to happen, and I know for him it seems like everything is coming to fruition. After the toughest time in his life and football career, he is back at his boyhood club. Yes, there is a lot of competition and he probably won't start every game, but competition brings the best out of everybody.
He gets to play with Cristiano Ronaldo, Edinson Cavani, Marcus Rashford, etc. At a time where the club is poised to compete for the biggest trophies.
What an experience it would be for him after all these personal battles he has gone through, to lift the Premier League trophy with the club he loves and adores.
Jesse Lingard is BACK and he is HERE TO STAY
“ You might have a low point but you’ve got to find that something in you, that never give up, that attitude to go again, go again, and go again because you should never been a quitter.” - Jesse Lingard