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Jesse Lingard Revealed He Nearly Took A Break From Football

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Jesse Lingard Revealed He Nearly Took A Break From Football

Jesse Lingard has revealed that his mental health issues nearly led him to take a break from football during last year.

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The past few months have been an amazing renaissance to Lingard's career, scoring nine goals in just 10 games since moving to West Ham United on loan at the end of January.

Before that though it had been a tricky couple of years for the Manchester United player, who had fallen out of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's first team.

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Last year Lingard revealed that problems off the pitch had contributed to his lack of form and he'd kept issues bottled up before finally confiding in Solskjaer.

Now the 28-year-old has revealed that he nearly took a break from football due to his mental health.

"Not quit football, just have a time out really," he told Presenting.

"I was going into games happy sitting on the bench and that's not me. I was telling my brother the other day: 'Remember when I was happy sitting on the bench and all this?'

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"I didn't want to play because my mind wasn't there, I wasn't focused at all. I was thinking about other things and obviously bottling it all up; trying to play football, you can't do it."

Lingard's mum's own mental health problems were part of the player's worries when his form initially deserted him, and led to him looking after his younger siblings.

"Through the years we had the help for her, but even just for me it's hard to bottle things up," the England international added.

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"It feels like you're not the same person. I felt like I wasn't Jesse Lingard. Even in football matches, I felt like the game was just passing me by, like I just didn't want to be there - it was crazy ... So, I opened up to United and told them what I was going through, what my mum was going through and they're always there to help."

Speaking about how he felt in lockdown, which came several months after he'd dropped out of United's first team, in a run that saw him fail to score in the Premier League in well over a year, his fight stopped him from quitting the game.

"I could have easily quit in lockdown, been like: 'Nah I don't want to do it'. I could have easily given up but the fight in me always brings me back to life and in lockdown I was just smashing gym, doing runs. I wanted to get back to training fitter and faster than anyone else and I did that.

Lingard has been a man transformed since moving to West Ham. Image: PA Images
Lingard has been a man transformed since moving to West Ham. Image: PA Images
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"I feel like lockdown has kind of transitioned me in a way. I watched my old games back and watched the World Cup games back and I thought: 'Yeah, that's the real Jesse Lingard.' The time that I had going a couple seasons back or last season, it just wasn't me at all and you can see that.

"My brother who lives with me, he could see that and he's got a video of me literally laying on the couch and I'm just staring for three minutes into thin air and he's just thinking: 'What is he going through? He's got the weight of the world on his shoulders.' And even he didn't know what I was going through at the time."

The real Jesse Lingard has certainly returned since he moved down to the London Stadium and his form could help West Ham qualify for the Champions League for the first time.

His form even led to a recall to the England squad for the first time in nearly two years and he could even make the squad for this summer's Euros.

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UOKM8? is a campaign by LADbible, featuring films and stories that provide advice and inspiration on mental health. Explore more here and don't suffer in silence. Let's talk mental health.

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Featured Image Credit: Presenting/PA

Topics: Football, Manchester United, Mental Health, Premier League, West Ham United, Jesse Lingard

Ryan Sidle
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