Jesse Lingard spent 22 years at Manchester United and was heartbroken that Ralf Rangnick didn’t give him the opportunity to say goodbye to the fans in the final home game of last season.
Lingard returns to Old Trafford with his new club, Nottingham Forrest, but in an interview with Sport Bible has reflected on what it was like leaving United, the club he has supported all his life. On his last training session, he bumped in to club physio Richard Merron.
It didn’t hit me until afterwards really. I remember we trained and stuff, like a normal day, and then Richard came up to me and said, ‘I’ll always remember your FA Cup goal and when we won the Youth Cup.’ And then it suddenly hit me. That little comment set me off straight away. I got into my car and started crying. I cried all the way home. That was hard.
His contract expired a few weeks later and his brother called him up to see how he was feeling. Again, the tears flowed.
He said to me, ‘How does it feel leaving United after 22 years?’ and I just broke down. I started crying again. I was there pretty much all my life. All I’ve ever known is Manchester United. To leave was emotional and it lasted quite a bit. But eventually you find a new team and a new set of teammates. To move on can be difficult at first but eventually, it’s got to happen to get game time.
Lingard’s final years at United saw off field issues creep in to his life which had an impact on his availability to play. But he’s in a much better headspace these days.
I’m good. Really good. I’m in a better space mentally. My family is good, which is the most important thing. My daughter, Hope, makes me happy. She’s going to be a character as well. She’s only four but she acts like she’s already 12. She plays a big role in my life.
I can really kick on and concentrate on football now. When things are going on behind closed doors, it’s difficult, and people didn’t know what was going on while I was still trying to play football. When lockdown came around, it was kind of like a reset to go and kick on again; like I did at West Ham.