The 76-year-old Scottish legend’s prophecy in 2012 about the then 19-year-old Jesse Lingard seems to be coming true, as he becomes one of the key players for Manchester United this season.
“He is 19, came through our youth system and is built like Jean Tigana was for France. But he never got into the limelight there until he was about 24, and I think that will be the same with Lingard.”
Lingard’s Road to Stardom
Lingard joined Manchester United’s youth academy at the age of 7 and progressed through the age groups. He was part of the Manchester United team that won the 2010-2011 FA Youth Cup, before signing a professional contract in the summer of 2011.
In the 2011-12 season, he was included in the squad only twice- once in the League cup and once in the premier league, remaining unused as United succumbed to a loss in both matches.
Lingard’s string of loan spells before getting time at United
In the 2012-13 season, he was loaned out to Leicester City, totaling a total of 5 appearances for the Foxes. Despite a good preseason in the 2013-14 season under new manager David Moyes, Lingard was loaned out to Birmingham City.
On his debut, he scored all 4 goals to secure a 4-1 win for the Championship side. In the upcoming seasons, he had short loan spells at Brighton & Hove Albion and Derby County. In the past couple of seasons, Lingard has had less amount of game time and has had scarce impact on United’s games, which is certainly not the case this season.
The 25-year-old has been one of the Red Devils’ standout performers this season under Jose Mourinho – only Romelu Lukaku has scored more Premier League goals for Man United this season. He played a starring role in Man Utd’s smash-and-grab 3-1 win over Arsenal, scoring a brace.
The midfielder also scored a brilliant goal in Monday’s 2-0 New Year’s Day win over Everton and Mourinho paid tribute to Lingard’s progress after the win.
Looking at what Ferguson said, it looks as if he knew what was going to happen with Lingard all along.
United currently sit at the second place in the Premier League table, 12 points behind their rivals Manchester City – having played one extra game than City and third-placed Chelsea.
Jesse Lingard has no doubt been one of the key players for Jose Mourinho’s men this season, who have struggled to live up to the expectations of many.
He’s one of the few in United’s squad who have impressed, and at such a young age he is definitely an asset to the club. With time his skills will only but polish further, leading to many more entertaining performances. He seems like someone who could be useful to England in their 2018 World Cup campaign in Russia.