Jesse Lingard has thanked Manchester United’s coaching set-up for sticking by him during the early stages of his career at the club.
There were concerns over Lingard’s height and physical stature as a youngster but coaches chose to keep him at Man United.
The 22-year-old has repaid their faith with a run in the first-team in recent weeks and he scored his first senior goal for the club in the 2-0 win over West Bromwich Albion before the international break.
Lingard thanked U21 coach Warren Joyce in particular for showing faith in him.
“In my first year, I didn’t really play for the U18s because of my physique. I played a few games with the U16s. But I started kicking on a bit in the second year with the U18s and, as soon as I was in the Reserves, Warren Joyce had faith in me on the left because he knew I’d do a job,” Lingard said.
“I played most Reserves games and trained with the first-team now and then under Sir Alex [Ferguson]. Then David Moyes came in and I trained with them a lot more. Now it’s Louis van Gaal and I’ve trained every day with the first-team.
Asked if it was strange to see how he has developed physically, Lingard added: “Definitely. For the transition from the U18s to the Reserves, I was with Warren in the gym every day. Even when I was on loan, I still had to keep the gym work up as he wouldn’t let me slack off at all. He knew the player I could be.
“I think it’s just been an incredible experience, coming through from the U7s to where I am now and what I’ve achieved already. It’s been incredible and I can’t thank the United staff enough. They could have let me go because of my height and I would now be playing somewhere else but they stuck with me. They saw my ability and I’m thankful for that.”
Lingard’s progress was hampered by a long-term injury he suffered last year but he has gone from strength to strength since his return to fitness. It is fantastic to see an academy graduate do so well in the first-team.