Jesse Lingard revealed part of his life story to the Players Tribune. His greatest support during his career was his grandfather. His grandfather is a huge football fan and Lingard recalled details from his earliest days. "This was in my academy days at Manchester United.
I think we were like 11 years old or something. We were playing at Stoke. You know, rain coming down and all that, and it was just one of them days. We weren’t playing well, and tempers were flaring a bit. And the funny thing was, the Stoke parents and the United parents were sitting right next to each other.
So this one Stoke Dad is shouting to the referee about something or other, and I can hear my grandad starting on him like, “Oi, sit down. Sit down, son. You’ve gotta understand, my grandad is proper old school. He wasn’t even a football man, really.
In his younger days, he was a rugby player and a powerlifter for Team Great Britain. He didn’t go full-on into football ’til after I was born and I started kicking about with my little ladybug floater football. We got pictures of me at 14 months with the red-and-black floater.
Was still in my nappies. Could barely walk. But I was banging ’em top bins in the brown suede sofa in his living room."
It is his grandfather who can be considered the biggest motivation for Lingard to become a footballer.
"It was always me and my grandad. Every day. Him and my nan helped raise me. I actually used to sleep on a mattress on the floor of their room. My grandad didn’t know a whole lot about football, but he could see I loved it, so he just started grafting.
Literally, when I was four years old, he bought these footy training tapes on VHS, and for whatever reason they were from Japan. And you know, just the sight of this. Imagine. This big, hard English bloke sitting in front of the telly every morning with his tea, watching the Japanese football lesson, taking notes.
Then after nursery, he’d take me down the park and teach me how to do a new skill. But I was so small that the ball was literally up to my knee. So I’d be like jumping over the ball to do step overs — hopping left and right."
In addition, in one part of his autobiography he talked about his debut for Manchester United. "I’ll never forget the day Sir Alex called me and Pogba up to the bench, away at Newcastle. We were 18, 19. I just remember looking around the dressing room and seeing all the legends preparing, pulling their socks on.
Scholes. Rooney. Rio. Giggsy. Me and Pogs take our spot on the bench, and you know, we were used to playing in reserve games in front of 200 people. This is 50,000. I remember looking up at that massive glass stand at the one end, and it was shaking. And I looked over at Pogs like, Oh my gosh, if the gaffer actually puts me in, I might wet meself."