Former Manchester United captain Bryan Robson has admitted that Jesse Lingard proved him wrong by becoming a starter for Jose Mourinho and England at the World Cup.
The 25-year-old made his senior debut in August 2014 but only started to enjoy a genuine run of games in November of the following year, impressing Louis van Gaal with his tight control and work rate.
He has since become a regular starter under Mourinho and made his World Cup debut against Tunisia earlier this week.
Writing in a column for the Daily Mail, Robson noted how he initially didn’t anticipate Lingard to make it as a youngster.
“He was small, he was light and he didn’t show enough to make me believe he could be anything more than a squad player. It is to his eternal credit that he has proved me wrong.
“This kid has worked so hard at his game that he’s an example to any young player who gets a few knocks and questions whether they can make it. Now he is playing for England in a World Cup.”
A face value reading of Lingard would show him as the joker of the class, incredibly popular and banterous and ebullient but, at the bottom of it all, perhaps not serious enough to truly make it as a top professional.
But this is where everyone is wrong about Lingard. The social media side is just a veneer, really. At the very core of Lingard lies a ruthless worker, somebody who wanted to play for United more than anything and didn’t once give up on that dream. That persistence has reaped huge rewards over the last year.