Feature

Late bloomer Lingard's rise to the World Cup

9 Jul 2018
Jesse Lingard, Man Utd

See how the England midfielder overcame early adversity with Man Utd to become a key player for his nation

When Jesse Lingard made his FIFA World Cup debut for England, it was in part down to the patience and resilience he showed at Manchester United as a boy.

Lingard joined United, his local club, at the age of eight. But his physical development was a longstanding issue as he rose through the ranks, reveals Tony Whelan, United's academy programme adviser.

"Jesse's name came up all the time and people – not within the football club but in general – were saying that he was so small and delicate, he might not be able to cope with the training and so on and so forth," Whelan said in an interview on United's official website.

Lingard played in the under-15s when he was 16. Indeed, even when he went full-time he was still playing with the under-16s.

"There was a big gap between him and the older boys, so in some of the games he didn't play, simply because he wouldn't have been able to get around the field and cope with the physical demands," Whelan said.

"We had to not play him in certain games, play him in others and bring him off to rest him at times, but he was able to deal with that. Some players just can't get their heads around it. Jesse did.

"It wasn't easy, but he had the patience, intelligence and trust in the coaching staff to know that those decisions were made in his best interests, that we were keeping him in cotton wool because we knew at some point he was going to grow. At some point all that ability would be able to come out.

"It's testament to Jesse’s resilience, determination and strength of character that he has been through all that and played his way into the England squad."

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