It’s hard to think of a more archetypal example of a modern footballer than Jesse Lingard.
Traditionalists, also known as ‘yer da’, have made the man from West Ham a symbol for everything that’s wrong with today’s game, whether it’s lines of clothing, choreographed celebrations or general “ flashiness ”.
In case you haven’t noticed, Lingard is not Terry Butcher. He comes from a less macho world of football, with softer tackles and more painful outbursts.
But with the Manchester United loan returned to West Ham after two years in the wild at Old Trafford, winning the Premier League’s first Player of the Month award and returning to the English setup – it’s time for a change. The narrator.
It wouldn’t be at all surprising if some fans revel in his downfall at United and tell all of their followers how much they appreciate him on Twitter.
We seem to accept that social media abuse comes with being a professional footballer, all of whom should have thick enough skin to handle it.
The 28-year-old has been at Man United since the age of seven, written off before turning out to be good enough and then written off again.
In other words, he’s had his fair share of abuse. But Lingard is part of a new generation of footballers, who understand it’s okay not to have thick skin all the time, and talking about your issues works better than ‘pulling yourself together’.
The England international spoke about mental health issues last year, urging others to do the same, as his mother battled depression.
Just as COVID-19 has put many of our lives on hold, Lingard’s career stalled for about two years before 2021, and his discovery of a new perspective is one for the time being.
After breaking into United’s first team and then playing for England at the 2018 World Cup, Lingard suddenly couldn’t get a kick out for much of the two and a half seasons that followed, becoming a forgotten man for the club and the country.
Once considered a generational talent, the new gem of United’s famous academy, Lingard did not score a Premier League goal between December 2018 and July 2020.
The talent was still there, but it was as if Lingard had lost his shine, that individualism that came from complete confidence in himself – regardless of what others might think.
A new opportunity at West Ham allowed him to rediscover that conviction – and he adopted a new perspective with him in east London, inspired by bestselling Sunday Times author Vex King.
‘Good Vibes, Good Life’, the book Lingard attributes to his new vision, is about internal healing inspired by self-love, channeling well-being to revive you – much like the midfielder does. in West Ham.
He recently said, “It’s really good about the law of attraction, the law of vibration, and how the positive energy that you put out into the universe, you can get it back.
“For me, it’s just about having people around me who can release this good energy and put me in a higher position.
He has a lot of them at West Ham, including forward Jarrod Bowen and assistant coach Stuart Peace, who recently told talkSPORT how a joy it is to be in Lingard’s company.
Bowen said, “Jesse is a great kid, also off the pitch. On the ground, you can see its quality. He likes to play week after week – which he probably needed.
“I think you can tell he appreciates his time here and the games he’s played, he’s made a huge difference for us.”
Meanwhile, Pearce believes the move to West Ham was just as beneficial for Lingard as it was for the Hammers.
Pearce told talkSPORT: “He’s a great kid. I spoke to Gareth [Southgate] and Steve Holland about him, David Moyes knew him before Man United. It is perfectly suited for us.
“He gives energy, goals, assists in these first games. And the flip side is that it is a good decision for him.
“It fits perfectly with his current situation in his career.”
Not only is Lingard back among goals and assists, but all the antics that come with it are back as well.
This added to J Lingz’s speech playing for England at the Euros this summer and he has a chance to prove himself now that he’s back in the international setup.
Former England striker Darren Bent told talkSPORT: “He has certainly given himself an outside chance to be part of the England squad.
“He’s playing really well on the pitch, you never know because he’s never really let down on Southgate.
“He has the manager’s confidence, and to me, when I watch him play, he looks more motivated than ever.
“It’s like people have been criticizing him for so long, saying he got lost and is far from the England team.
“He’s back, West Ham is flying, he wants to show people that he can still play, he’s still a good player.
“You would have to say, on the current form in position # 10, he has to be in the discussion.
If Lingard comes back from the sidelines to play for England and Man United again, it will be because he is indeed a symbol of the modern football era – but for all the right reasons.