Jesse Lingard admits alcohol helped ‘take the pain away’ at Man Utd
Jesse Lingard has admitted that he used to drink alcohol ‘to try and take the pain away’ as his Manchester United career stalled.
Lingard joined Nottingham Forest last summer on a free transfer, signing a one-year deal at The City Ground after ending a 22-year stay at Manchester United.
The 30-year-old had enjoyed a successful loan spell at West Ham United before returning to Man Utd in 2021, but he wasn’t unable to force his way back into then manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s plans despite being convinced to stay.
Scorer of the winning goal in the 2016 FA Cup final, Lingard has revealed that the abuse he was receiving from supporters, coupled with his mother’s battle with depression, had left him relying on alcohol before sleep.
“I was drinking before bed, having a nightcap,” Lingard told The Diary Of A CEO podcast. “I look back now and think, ‘what was I doing that for?’ But I needed something to try and take the pain away and put me at ease somehow.
“I was trying to forget what was going on. But it makes it 10 times worse.
“You’re getting that much abuse, and I’m already down enough, and I’ve got to perform. I’m already going through things you don’t know about…I felt like the world was on my shoulders.”
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Speaking about his mother’s depression, Lingard continued: “The depression was so bad she couldn’t really cope any more and she needed to go away and get help.
“But leaving me with my little sister who was 11 at the time and my little brother who was 15, for me, I was still going through my own things as well.
“So I wasn’t really the big brother they wanted at the time. They always get the fun, laughy, bubbly Jesse and I was going through my own things, so I was on autopilot. I just wasn’t there mentally.”
Lingard revealed that he eventually spoke to Solskjaer about his issues after being abused after United’s FA Cup win over Derby in March 2020.
“To be abused like that tipped it. I didn’t want to be on the pitch, I didn’t want to play. I didn’t want to quit football, I never would have quit football, but I needed a break.
“I need to find some motivation, some fire in my belly to get going again because I can’t be doing this.
“We kept it close-knit but even just to have Ole say, ‘how is your mum? How is she doing?’ helped, to let people know what I was going through.”