Jesse Lingard reveals he turned to drink during Man United struggles

Jesse Lingard has revealed how he ‘was drinking to try to take the pain away’ as his Manchester United career fell apart and he battled mental demons.

The England international footballer has opened up on how the pressure to perform, abuse from fans, and his mother’s struggle with depression totally drained his enthusiasm for the game during the 2019-20 season.

‘I was drinking before bed, having a nightcap. I look back now and think ‘what was I doing that for?’ But I needed something to try and take the pain away,’ Lingard told The Diary Of A CEO Podcast in a candid interview.

England footballer Jesse Lingard opened up about his mental health and drinking problems

England footballer Jesse Lingard opened up about his mental health and drinking problems

In a candid podcast interview, Lingard admitted he was 'drinking to try and take the pain away'

In a candid podcast interview, Lingard admitted he was ‘drinking to try and take the pain away’

‘I was trying to forget what was going on. But it makes it 10 times worse.’

Opening up on how his game and mindset was affected by online abuse, Lingard, who now plays for Nottingham Forest, admitted it became impossible to be his usual self.

‘You’re getting that much abuse, and I’m already down enough, and I’ve got to perform,’ he said.

‘I was still trying to be Jesse, like banter… banter jokes and all that but, of course it’s going to affect me.

Lingard in action for England

He admitted it was a struggle to focus on football as his mum Kirsty struggled with mental health issues

Lingard also opened up about how he struggled to focus on the pitch as his mother Kirsty (pictured with him, right) struggled with her own mental health battle

‘I’m already going through things you don’t know about… I felt like the world was on my shoulders.’

Lingard, 30, also spoke about his mum Kirsty’s struggles with depression – she was admitted to hospital for treatment in 2019 – which left him feeling like games were ‘passing him by.’

Lingard stepped in to care for his younger siblings, brother Jasper, then 15, and sister Daisy-Boo, who was 11 while their mum was ill.

‘The depression was so bad she couldn’t really cope any more and she needed to go away and get help,’ he said.

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.

Lingard said things came to a head when he was abused by fans after a FA Cup win at Derby

Lingard said things came to a head when he was abused by fans after a FA Cup win at Derby

‘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 auto-pilot.

‘I just wasn’t there, mentally wasn’t there. I was on the pitch but 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’m going into games just with a mind blankness. I didn’t want to be on the pitch, I didn’t want to be there, so of course I was playing badly.’

Lingard revealed how things came to a head when he was abused by supporters after United won 3-0 at Derby County in the FA Cup on March 5, 2020.

Unable to hide his problems any longer, Lingard turned to then-Man United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Unable to hide his problems any longer, Lingard turned to then-Man United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

‘We won but as soon as I got on the bus it was “Jesse, you’re s***, why are you playing for us?” Luke Shaw came down off the bus and backed me,’ he recalled.

‘I don’t know if it was United fans or Derby fans but I’m human, you know what I mean. Of course it’s going to affect me. I’m already down enough anyway, going through things you don’t know about, and I’ve got to perform on a weekly basis.

‘When you are performing, it’s not at 100 per cent so of course there’s going to be critics. But to be abused like that tipped it.

‘I was like, “I can’t be arsed anymore, I need a break. I need to find some motivation, some fire in my belly to get going again because I can’t be doing this.”

‘It was another game next week and I couldn’t be arsed, I didn’t want to play.

Jesse Lingard was subjected to vile abuse after Manchester United's win at Derby in March 2020

Lingard was targeted by Man United fans as he boarded the bus following their FA Cup win against Derby County in March 2020

‘Just during that time period, everything that was going on with my mum, looking after my little brother and sisters, I felt like I had the world on my shoulders.’

It reached a point where Lingard, despite his best efforts to hide his problems from team-mates in training, had to open up to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who was United’s manager at the time.

‘At training, I was masking the depression side of things and the anxiety,’ he said.

‘I was still trying to be Jesse, the banter and jokes, but it comes to the point where you actually need to say something because I felt the world was on my shoulders and had nobody to turn to.

Lingard left Manchester United and signed for Nottingham Forest over the summer

Lingard left Manchester United and signed for Nottingham Forest over the summer

‘I thought I could deal with this, I could handle it, but it came to a point when I went to Ole and said “this is what’s going on”.

‘We kept it close knit but even just to have Ole say, “how is your mum? How is she doing?’

‘Just to have those conversations helped, to let people know what I was going through.’

Lingard said he had never read online and social media comments, saying it was ‘the worst thing you can do.’

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