Jesse Lingard has demonstrated that, in spite of being an internationally known £100,000 a week superstar, he remains an inherently down-to-earth figure with his latest Instagram story.
He has spent the last week working hard ahead of Manchester United’s pre-season tour, visiting a local training centre to put himself through the paces.
The 24-year-old, heavily criticised back in April for receiving a lucrative contract worth £100,000 a week, was on his way home when a bunch of children having a kick-about noticed him.
What happened next was truly heartwarming and indicative of what Lingard is really like as an individual.
I will never forget the anecdote told by Andy Thompson, speaking on a Red Mancunian podcast, some years ago about meeting Roy Keane in Altrincham. He and his friend bumped into the Man United captain and the latter, clearly ecstatic at seeing the man in the flesh, turned around to reveal Keane’s name on the back of his shirt, the black away kit, explaining: “Look, Keano!”
The Irishman, untouched as usual, barked back: “F**k off, the both of you.”
Keane would have plenty to say about the ‘flashy’, ‘arrogant’ Lingard picking up an astronomical paycheque, but there is a crucial difference between the two that places the former captain in a gloomier light: the 24-year-old, for all the fame and riches he is enthroned by, still possesses a humble, undeniably positive spirit that, instead of recoiling at the sight of screaming kids, opens up, smiles, and decides to take time out of his day to treat them to a kick-about.
A simple gesture of kindness, espousing an attitude that this world needs more of so desperately. Those kids will never, ever forget that for as long as they live.