Jesse Lingard admits he was “emotional” after being left out of England’s final squad for Euro 2020, but says he maintains a strong relationship with Gareth Southgate.
Lingard was included in England’s 33-man squad for their pre-tournament camp and played in both of their warm-up friendlies ahead of Euro 2020.
However, the 28-year-old was one of seven players to be cut before the tournament, despite enjoying an outstanding second half of the season following his loan switch from Manchester United to West Ham in January.
Lingard’s form for the Hammers also earned him a recall to the England squad for March’s World Cup qualifiers, but he was then told he would not be part of Southgate’s plans this summer.
Recalling that conversation, Lingard told Sky Sports: “It was emotional. You’re sad and you’re down, but you’ve got to respect the manager’s decision.
“Me and Gareth have a great relationship, and now it’s about supporting the boys.”
Lingard has been doing just that, and even joined England supporters to watch their opening game against Croatia in a beer garden.
“I love watching England – I’m a fan myself,” he said. “I enjoyed going to the beer garden to watch the first game.
“Last year, November time, I think no one thought I’d get near the team. But I worked hard, did well on loan and England came knocking.
“I enjoyed the camp in March – it’s always good to be back with the boys. I played in those games, and then coming up to the Euros, being involved in the 33-man squad was brilliant as well.
“I worked so hard to get there. I didn’t get picked, but I’ll always carry on supporting the boys.”
Lingard’s admission that he was not close to selection for England’s fixtures in November comes as no surprise given he had played just two matches – both in the League Cup – for Manchester United at that point of the season.
He went on to feature just once more for his boyhood club before joining West Ham, where he scored nine goals and assisted five more in 16 games to help the Hammers qualify for next season’s Europa League.
Lingard is now set to return to Manchester United for pre-season training, but after his stellar second half of the campaign, says: “Regular football is the most important thing for me.
“After going on loan and getting a good run in the team, you started to see the real me, with the goals and the assists.
“I’ve never doubted my ability, I’ve always believed in myself. I spoke to the manager (Ole Gunnar Solskjaer) in pre-season and said, ‘I need game time’. He said, ‘we can discuss it December time’, and we spoke again and he agreed to let me go on loan.
“I had various conversations with him during my time at West Ham. He was very supportive and it was a great loan for me.”
Jesse Lingard was speaking after playing a best-of-three series on EA Sports’ FIFA 21 as part of the second annual edition of Gamers Without Borders, the world’s biggest charity esports event.
Held over nine weeks, Gamers Without Borders is uniting gamers of all abilities online in the battle against COVID-19, with more than $10m being donated across its duration to vaccine distribution in the world’s most vulnerable nations.