Jesse Lingard has opened up about the dark times that nearly derailed his career and his renaissance last season at West Ham.
The Manchester United star spoke exclusively to the Daily Mail’s Jamie Redknapp and covered everything from mental health to ‘project Jesse 2.0’.
“My confidence was shot. You can be that happy-go-lucky guy, bouncing around the training ground, but deep down you’re wearing that smile as a mask.”
“The game was passing me by. I felt like I wasn’t there. I was bottling things up and not telling anyone what was going on.”
He also touched on his battles with alcohol:
“We had times during the bad periods when I started to resort to drinking at night and that wasn’t me. My dad’s never been a big drinker. My mum’s never been a big drinker. I was bottling up so much in my head that I had resorted to drinking to try to ease the pain.”
With the walls seemingly closing in, the 28-year-old enlisted the help of two people very important to get his career back on track for both United and England.
Brother Louie Scott and Greece under 17 coach Alexandros Alexiadis were both pivotal in not only offering tactical analysis and motivation but in reminding him just who he was and what he stood for.
“I wasn’t playing so I was down. Luckily, I had Louie sending me videos from my Under 21 days for United and England. He was trying to make me realise what a good player I’d been.”
“Watch this! Watch this! So, I did and thought, you know what? I can’t throw this away. It gave me confidence, and that first lockdown gave me a chance to re-evaluate what I wanted in life.”
Despite flirtations with a move abroad, Lingard eventually ended up on loan at West Ham for the second half of last season.
Having played very little football that season (just three cup appearances) upon signing for the Hammers in January 2021, expectations were measured upon his debut against Aston Villa.
But what followed was undoubtedly the best form of his career, across 16 games Lingard bagged nine goals and five assists, earning both player and goal of the month awards and forcing his way back into the England squad- something that seemed nearly impossible six months prior.
“It worked out perfectly. I couldn’t have asked for a better loan. I’ll always support West Ham. They’ll stay in my heart, and I’ll retain that bond with them.”
Right now, it’s unclear just where Lingard’s future lies, but what cannot be denied is the strength and courage the local lad possesses and for that reason every United fan should wish him nothing but the best.