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Manchester United midfielder Jesse Lingard reveals how West Ham’s no phone policy changed his career

Manchester United midfielder Jesse Lingard reveals how West Ham’s no phone policy changed his career

Lingard’s bumpy 2020-21 campaign

Jesse Lingard endured a very mixed 2020-21 campaign. Beginning the season at parent club Manchester United, he did not make it off the bench under Ole Gunnar Solskjear’s management, and as a result sought a January move away.

This move came in the form of a loan deal struck with West Ham in the dying embers of the January transfer window, which saw him reunited with one time Red Devil boss David Moyes in East London.

The then 28-year-old went on to have a stellar second half of the season, scoring nine times and assisting a further five in 16 appearances for the Irons, and propelling them into an unlikely Europa League place, which they are reaping the rewards for this campaign.

However, his return to Manchester United has been much of the same as before, with Lingard so far managing just 45 minutes of action this season, although he has netted twice in that time, including what proved to be the winner against West Ham.

Lingard reveals how West Ham helped his mental health

Today, in the Players Tribune, Lingard has outlined just how important his move to West Ham was for his own mental health. Of course, for his career it was great as he could play more, but it had much more far-reaching benefits.

The England midfielder revealed that by the time of the first lockdown in March 2020,  his mental health had plummeted, saying:

“I had pretty much written myself off.” 

While playing football undoubtedly helped his mental health, Lingard revealed that West Ham’s no phone policy had a dramatic effect on him too. As he was previously spiralling down, he recalled that:

“In my personal life, I buried myself in my phone. Face glued to screens. You might get a mm-hmm out of me in a conversation, but I wasn’t really listening. I was bottling it all up. All these emotions and all this stress.”

However, at West Ham he was not allowed to do that, with Lingard revealing that he learned that at an early stage:

I remember on one of my first away games, I was sitting in the back of his car on the way to the airport. It was just me, him and Aaron Cresswell.

Immediately, I was on my phone. Just automatic, as you do. But he wasn’t having any of it. He turned to me saying, “Whoa, no phones allowed in here! We talk.”

I was like, “O.K. … fine.”

On the plane, I would normally whack the headphones on and listen to music, but Nobes and the rest of the guys wouldn’t stand for it. 

It was like that everywhere at West Ham, proper conversations about everything. No phones, no social media. No more mm-hmm. If we were having dinner at a hotel, we’d stay down there for ages just talking. It helped us bond as a team, and personally, it helped me a lot.

While media and fans alike are quick to pick on a player’s ability on the pitch, we often forget the potential consequences of doing so on a player’s mental health. Strip away the glitz, glamour and money, and they remain humans.

You can read Lingard’s full work here

Read more:

Man United looking to sign midfielder in January as ‘clear target’ emerges

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Aminat Aigbe

Aminat Aigbe is the first lady of afronaija and a very good blogger ( Original Mrs AfroNaija )

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