To score your first competitive goal for one of the most historic sides in English football at the Theatre of the Dreams is a childhood dream for any football fan. For Jesse Lingered the dream became reality as the 23-year-old scored one of the goals which ended Man United’s awful run against the Baggies at Old Trafford.
Shoot takes a look at the Warrington-born forward’s rise to United’s first-team – from FA Youth Cup glory to play-off heartbreak – and all of the pain and agony is now worth it as the Stretford End roar his name.
Where did it all start for the United forward?
Lingard was born in Cheshire – just 35 minutes away from Sir Matt Busby Way. With his ability clear, there is no shock that he was snapped up as a youngster at Carrington. Here he progressed into the player he is today, and was inspirational at under-18 level. It was at this point that he tasted success for the first time as he played a integral part in United’s 2011 FA Youth Cup winning team. Months later, the dream of a professional footballer became a reality as he put pen to paper on his first professional contract
What happened next?
A year later he experienced first team football for the first time. He was thrown in at the deep end as well with with Nigel Pearson’s Leicester side, who were striving for promotion back to the Premier League. Here his impact was finite with him only making a handful of appearances. On return to the North West, it was imperative that he made an impact under new manager David Moyes. That looked the case when he banged in a treble during their pre-season trip to Australia. But the Reds were struggling in the league and needed vast experienced pros and not Lingard. So back out on loan he went.
How has he got to this point?
His first destination was to the other side of the Midlands as Birmingham City came calling in September 2013. His debut was a day to remember as it was on this occasion where he scored his first goal in professional football thanks to a goalkeeping error by former Liverpool player Chris Kirkland. Remarkably, the youngster went on to score four on that day at St Andrew’s. Unsurprisingly, he became a regular under then manager Lee Clark.
It was clear that the young midfielder could cope with Championship football, and impress in it as well. After being recalled in January of 2014, his next step came at the Amex Stadium on the south coast as Brighton, a side pushing for a play-off place, signed the England under-21 international on a loan deal until the end of the season. He eventually guided Brighton into the play-offs, scoring four league goals in 17 appearances – including against former side Leicester.
In February this year he made the move back to the East Midlands; this time to the iPro Stadium and Derby County. Lingard was frustrated throughout though as the Rams only narrowly missed out on the play-offs on the final day of the season.
How much of a shock was his first goal for the Red Devils?
Over the past few weeks, Louis van Gaal has most certainly taken a liking to the United academy product, and perhaps it was inevitable that he was soon going to get his first goal in the famous red shirt. In fact, some may have suggested that it could have come a lot earlier with him going close in his past few appearances, including in their Champions League win over CSKA Moscow last week.
There is no question about it, especially with the likes of Rooney and Martial struggling for form recently, more goals will come for the 23-year-old.
Why is he so dangerous?
Lingard is direct, has pace and worries defences. As we have seen recently, he is fond of cutting inside and taking shots from the edge of the 18-yeard box, however you could not call him the most dependable in front of goal.
His slick passing and fantastic through-balls make him a threat to any opposition though.
Super Stat: Lingard’s strike on Saturday was his first domestic goal since April 18th.