In light of the FIFA World Cup that concluded recently I thought I’d share the story of an England International footballer who has been on the rise recently. His name is Jesse Lingard. Lingard didn’t have the great rise to fame as perhaps one of his former team mates, Wayne Rooney had – who was a record breaker straight out of the box. Jesse’s career started off slow. He was brought into the Man United Academy as a young boy with great skill, however, he lacked the physique to cope, never mind compete. For this reason, many of the staff at the Academy felt he would not be able to handle the demands of being a professional footballer.
The staff decided it was best to nurture him slowly and protect him where possible. This meant that when Jesse was 16 he was playing with the Under 15s and even when he got to the reserve leagues they would leave him out of certain games so as to protect him from the physical nature of his opponents. As a footballer myself, this would dishearten me as I don’t think I would be able to handle playing with the younger boys, or even to get left out of the team on specific games solely because I’m not big enough. It would really have me walking around with my head down. It’s the same thing as being a salesman and being left out of the board room while the rest of your colleagues close that big deal, or when your child says that your cooking just simply isn’t as good as Aunty Wendy’s.
Jesse Lingard was different. He understood that this was all for his own good. His understanding nature and patience paid off when he was given his first professional contract. You’d think this is where it all happens; this is where Jesse has made it, it’s just smooth sailing from here on out– well not quite. Jesse was sent out on loan on several occasions to lower league sides to get competitive match experience. Now again, this is something that could have really had him questioning himself– But not Lingard, he was focused on the long term goal, he knew these loan spells were going to help him and were simply just stepping stones. Jesse knew that he had to wait for his moment to come.
A moment came in 2014 but it was not THE moment, he made his debut in Manchester United colours. He didn’t really play much after that though, he featured sporadically throughout the next two seasons – again, this is another reason why it would have been understandable if he had thrown in the towel, the situation was similar to the life of a star in space; that burns bright in the early stages of its life but fades shortly after. It took 2 years after his debut for his moment to come. I remember it like it was yesterday, I was at home – biting my nails. It was the FA Cup final at Wembley. The score was tied at one all and Palace had United on the ropes and they looked most likely to grab the winner, until the ball was launched forward against the run of play, where it fell for a perfectly positioned Lingard. This was his moment. It was so special. The whole of Wembley and most likely every Manchester United fan witnessed the announcing of Jesse Lingard.
It was from then that he went on to establish himself as a regular in the side. His performances in the 2017/2018 season were so prolific that he earned himself not only a spot in the World Cup England Squad but also as a starter in the team. In the tournament he went on to score a fantastic goal against Panama to open his account at the World Cup. Thanks to his perseverance and patience, it has all come together for him.
You see, that’s the thing, no goal was ever met without a little sweat. Jesse had so many obstacles in his way. He had so many reasons as to why it would be okay to quit, but he never gave up. He showed that with great patience and simply just trusting the process, that everything will work out for the best. That’s the way we should all tackle life, whether you’re a young teen struggling to get through your matric finals, a dad who has cast his fishing line in to the ocean for the 100th time with no success or even a Mom who feels there’s just not enough time in her day – if you take a step back, take a minute to breathe and keep going till the final whistle, just like Jesse, your moment will come.
Achmat Forbes – Saturday & Sunday 5am – 6am Anchor, Smile 90.4FM