“That’s not me.”
Lingard revealed that he contemplated taking some “time out” from football and added that he “wasn’t focused at all” during the aforementioned period at Old Trafford.
After emerging through Man United’s youth academy, Lingard managed to establish himself as a first-team regular, featuring in over 200 games for the Red Devils.
However, last year, ahead of the first lockdown in March 2020, Lingard was struggling to secure game-time at the club. And in the first half of this season, it was more of the same with the England international appearing in just three matches for Man United.
His lack of game time led him to move to West Ham United on loan in January until the end of the season. The 28-year-old has scored nine goals and has provided four assists in just 10 games for the Hammers.
‘I felt like I wasn’t Jesse Lingard’.
Lingard, speaking in an interview with the entertainment show Presenting, opened up on the difficult period he went through at Man United during the first lockdown.
“Not quit football, just have a time out really,” Lingard said.
“I was going into games happy sitting on the bench and that’s not me. I was telling my brother the other day: ‘Remember when I was happy sitting on the bench and all this?’
“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.
“It feels like you’re not the same person. I felt like I wasn’t Jesse Lingard. Even in football matches, I felt like the game was just passing me by (and) like I just didn’t want to be there – it was crazy.
“I feel like lockdown has kind of transitioned me in a way. I watched my old games back and watched the World Cup games back and I thought: ‘Yeah, that’s the real Jesse Lingard.’
“I could have easily quit in lockdown, been like: ‘Nah, I don’t want to do it.’ I could have easily given up but the fight in me always brings me back to life and in lockdown I was just smashing the gym, doing runs. I wanted to get back to training fitter and faster than anyone else and I did that.”
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