Jesse Lingard opens up on injury and mental health struggles
"I love football. Love it to death. But there were times when I thought, 'I just can’t do this anymore.'"
Jesse Lingard has opened up about the struggles he has faced both mentally and physically and how a conversation with Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and support from his brother helped to reinvigorate his career.
In an emotional post on The Players Tribune, Lingard revealed how his troubles first started when he suffered an injury and went to speak to then manager, José Mourinho.
However, he found the tough love from his boss difficult, which led to a difficult spell for Lingard.
He said: "Right after I came back for the 2018–19 season, I got this injury in my groin. Osteitis pubis. Proper niggly one.
"After a few matches, I just stopped. Couldn’t play, couldn’t train. My body had just had enough.
"José Mourinho was the Manchester United manager back then and … well, he didn’t really like his players being injured. He didn’t want to know about it. And I’m like, 'It’s not my fault, is it, Boss?!'"
"From that point, I couldn’t get back to where I had been. I was struggling mentally as well as physically.
"I love football. Love it to death. But there were times when I thought, 'I just can’t do this anymore.'”
The 28-year-old then explained how, after months of hiding his emotions, he went to speak to Solskjaer, whose approach was the polar opposite to Mourinho's.
"I finally found the courage to talk to Ole and the guys at United about everything I was going through," said Lingard.
"It wasn’t an easy thing to do, but Ole’s not just a manager, he’s a friend. I’ve known him for ages. When I did finally talk to him about everything that was going on, his response was, 'I wish you’d come to me sooner.'
"After he said that, I was like, 'Why didn't I say anything before?' I thought I could do it all on my own, but I couldn’t. You need people."
Following the discussion, Lingard eventually moved on loan to West Ham United in January, and it was there where he rediscovered his love for football - highlighting the team spirit at West Ham as an important part of the development.
— Players' Tribune Football (@TPTFootball) October 13, 2021
He said: "I felt like I just fit in straight away. There’s a great group of lads at West Ham. They made that transition so easy for me.
"On the plane, I would normally whack the headphones on and listen to music, but Nobes [Mark Noble] and the rest of the guys wouldn’t stand for it.
"It was like that everywhere at West Ham, proper conversations about everything. No phones, no social media.
"If we were having dinner at a hotel, we’d stay down there for ages just talking. It helped us bond as a team, and personally, it helped me a lot."
One man behind the scenes who played an integral role was Lingard's brother Lou, and it was a tale of two whiteboards which spearheaded the former loanee's impressive form.
"When we moved down to London, one of the first things he did was set up these two whiteboards in our flat.
"He brought them in and I was like, 'What is he doing?' He goes, 'This one’s for targets, this one’s for motivation.'
"On the left, you had goals, assists, distances, shots, take-ons, everything. On the right, it was all motivational stuff: key words, quotes, stuff to get me hyped.
"He wrote down some targets for before the international break: four goals, two assists. I told him, 'Nah, put like eight goals … nine goals!'
"He was like, “Bro, if you go too high at the start, you might not hit it.”
"The quotes worked as well. My motivation was through the roof. Everything I needed was all there on those two boards.
"Thank you, Bro, for helping me be the real me. We’ve cleared the whiteboard."
It seems as though Lingard's spell has well and truly revitalised the United midfielder.
Now a regular feature once more in the Manchester United and England squad - where he featured during the most recent international break, the 28-year-old looks like he is well and truly back to his best.
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