A new season means a new start for Jesse Lingard at Manchester United, but he came close to throwing everything away after turning to booze at a low point in his career.
Before the switch to West Ham that resurrected his career, he was an outcast at the Red Devils with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer not able to offer him the requisite minutes on the pitch that he desired.
That in turn led to the player considering the options of playing in either Saudi Arabia or China, whilst also going out partying and not looking after himself in the way a professional footballer might be expected to.
“At my lowest point, I was thinking, ‘I need to get away from England’. Not to Spain, but to China or Saudi Arabia, somewhere to stay out of the limelight and only concentrate on football,” he told Jamie Redknapp for the Daily Mail.
“[…] We had times during the bad periods when I started to resort to drinking at night and that wasn’t me.
“My dad’s never been a big drinker. My mum’s never been a big drinker. I was bottling up so much in my head that I had resorted to drinking to try to ease the pain.
“Louie was looking at me and thinking, ‘That’s not my brother’. I’ve never been a big drinker, but I was resorting to that for my own peace. When I finally opened up and started speaking to family, it really helped. I owe it to them.
“I dread to think about what would have happened if you weren’t there. If I was here on my own, in lockdown, where would I be now?”
Although he’s clearly in a better place mentally these days, it still isn’t clear if Solskjaer will utilise Lingard properly this season.
West Ham would offer him everything he craves, however, that option appears to be off the table for now.