A seven year old prospect turned first team starlet, the story of Jesse Lingard is an inspiration for any young fan captivated by football. What's more, an appreciation for strong style and a football education that has seen him pull on many Manchester United shirts, we sat down and went through the years with this player who is hungry for more.

Jesse, you've been at United since you were seven. Hundreds of kids join the club at that age but only a handful makes it to the first team. Why do you think you have? 

"Everyone in football knows what a great club United is and how much of a challenge it is to progress to the first team. But as a young player you couldn’t ask for a better academy set-up than United; it’s second to none. Everything is in place for you to succeed. If you are persistent, work hard and can maintain that dedication then you give yourself a great chance. I’d put my progression down to those three things." 

Can you remember getting Manchester United shirts for Christmas and birthdays? 

"I have been a fan of the club for as long as I can remember, so a United jersey was the one thing I always asked for at Christmas and birthdays. They hold special memories for me of my early years as a football player." 

Were there any players’ names you had on the back? 

"I actually never really got a specific player’s name on the back of my shirts. Whenever possible I asked to have my name on the back of the shirt so that I could imagine that I was playing for United every time I played."

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You've worn numerous United shirts from your time at the club. Have you kept any? What have you done with your goalscoring shirt from the FA Cup final? 

"I have kept a few shirts from important matches that I’ve been a part of over the years. Interestingly I wanted to get the FA Cup final shirt framed, but I insisted that it was not to be washed beforehand, so it’s framed but still in the same filthy condition! It’s a really nice reminder of a special day." 

Do you swap shirts with opposition? Which are the best ones you've got and what do you do with them all? 

"I’ve never really gone for swapping shirts with the opposition too much. If I do swap it tends to be with the players that I know well personally off the field, guys like Michael Keane and Nathan Redmond who I’m good friends with."

Going back to that FA Cup Final, scoring for your boyhood club to win the FA Cup is every kids dream. Try and describe it for us... 

"It’s difficult to sum that goal up really. It was a very emotional moment for my family and for myself. To score the winning goal in any game is a special feeling but to score it in an FA Cup final is something else. It’s a feeling I can’t really explain, the emotion just takes over you. Having something like that happen to you on a stage like Wembley, after all of the sacrifices my family and I had made to get to that moment, it’s something I’ll never forget. " 

How many times have you watched that goal back? 

"Haha too many times to remember! Seriously, I have watched the goal a lot of times! It’s hard to put an exact number on it, but it’s definitely a hell of a lot. It was a special moment." 

You've been in the away end to watch United when you've been injured. How was that experience? 

"The United fans are really amazing. I was with them in the away end to watch us play Liverpool in the Europa League last year, when I was suspended, and it was a brilliant experience. Very different to what we have become used to as players, but I loved it all the same. When you’re with the fans the emotion really takes over; you get a deeper understanding of what the club means to them and it motivates you to work hard so you can pay them back on the field."  

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Marcus Rashford is another young United fan coming through into the first team. Do you feel extra close to him having been on the same journey? 

"Marcus and I actually took slightly different paths in our youth careers at United and didn’t play together as often as people might think. But we’ve both ended up in the same place which is the first team, and he’s doing unbelievably well in every game he plays in. He’s great to have as a team-mate and also great to have as a close friend. His work-rate is second to none and his movement on-pitch is incredible. Playing up front with him for our win against Chelsea was a brilliant experience." 

You often post throwback United pictures on your social channels. There was a brilliant one of you in the garden aged about 2 or 3 playing football in a united shirt. Still got that shirt? 

"My mum has that shirt! She insisted on keeping it for herself as a memento. I think she loves that shirt more than I do! She’s one of my biggest fans for sure." 

Another shot was of you meeting Cristiano Ronaldo, you must be about 8 or 9 years old. Can you remember that? 

"Of course, I remember it well! I met him at a film shoot for a Man United DVD called ‘Play like Champions’. It was not long after he joined the club, and he blew me away with his skill. He was definitely someone who had a big impact on me as I was developing as a player and he remains a role model of mine to this day. You look at his professionalism; the way he looks after himself off the pitch – his diet, the way he trains, the way he’s never satisfied and is always looking to improve. It’s what’s made him the player he is today and he’s an inspiration not just to me but to any young player looking to succeed in the game." 

Ever had chance to show him the pic or talk to him about it? 

"I haven’t had chance to mention it to him yet! I’ll have to show him the next time I bump into him. I’m sure he’ll enjoy it." 

Can you remember what it was like to meet first team players at that age? 

"These guys were my idols, so to get the chance to meet them was a dream-come-true. I made sure to listen to everything they said, and then I would take what I had learnt from them and practice it on the pitch. I am still learning from first team players every day. The likes of Zlatan (Ibrahimovic) and Wayne (Rooney) have won everything there is to win at club level, so when they talk you listen." 

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Is it strange to think that now you're the star player, meeting star struck kids? 

"I have always enjoyed meeting young fans, and if they look up to me and see me as a role model then I’m very lucky. I don’t really see myself as a star though - I still have a long way to go." 

Manchester United are known for having some of the best looking football kits in football. For you personally, what features do you like to see in a football jersey? 

"The United jersey is, for me, one of the most iconic and symbolic kits in the world. The kits of the past have been hallmarks of some of the club’s biggest successes. To play in, I like a kit that is tight fitting and preferably a round neck. The United kits from the past few seasons have been on point." 

And what about the new home and away shirts? What you saying? 

"I’m a big fan of the new kits! They are definitely to my taste. The home kit has that classic look and feel to it; it’s an amazing feeling every time I pull on the home kit as it’s a reminder that I’m lucky enough to play for one of the biggest clubs in the world. In particular I’m a massive fan of the new away kit. I love how it’s a modern take on one of the club’s all-time classic kits. It’s the sort of jersey that, if I were a fan, I’d wear out and about. It’s got that lifestyle look and feel to it." 

We spoke about how many kids don't make it to the first team. What characteristics do you need to succeed at Manchester United? 

"As I mentioned before, hard work and dedication are absolutely crucial to becoming a good player and succeeding, not just at United but at any professional club. United is a special place and I think players need that extra something if they want to achieve success here. You need to put in the extra effort – before and after training - and remain focused. You have to train with the same intensity that you bring to games. Those things will stand you in good stead. "

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Fast forwarding to the current team. Jose Mourinho is now your manager. How has he changed you as a player in his first season?" 

"The gaffer has pushed me to try and get that little extra bit out of my game. He has improved my work rate on the ball but also off it as well, which is really important. He demands a lot of all of his players, and when someone like Jose speaks, you definitely listen." 

You're off to America this pre-season. It will be your first pre-season tour with Paul back at the club. Excited? 

"I’ve always loved visiting the US and playing in different parts of the country, it’s a nation that loves its football and lots of people are very passionate about United as a club. It will be really cool to have Paul back with us on tour. We had some great times together when we toured in the past with the club’s academy and reserve team. It’s no secret I’m good friends with Paul but ultimately we’re going there to improve as a squad, to become better players and make sure we’re ready for the season ahead." 

You've played in the US before with United. You've also been to Australia and China. Do you get a feel for how big the club is worldwide? 

"Wherever United go around the world you always feel the same love from the fans. Even though in some countries there might be a language barrier, you know you all share the same love for the football club. The fan-base in China is absolutely incredible and you can tell the game in the US has grown a lot over the years. The fans there get really excited and it’s obvious to see when you look at how packed the stadiums now are for MLS games." 

Your relationship with adidas is still relatively young. How have you enjoyed working with the brand? 

"My relationship with adidas has been great so far! They’re a really professional brand that cares about their athletes on an individual basis. I really rate the route they’re going down, not just with its athletes but with football in general. Some of the videos they release are really cool and I was a huge fan of the Pogba x Stormzy music video they released last year. It’s cool to see a brand go down this route. I’m sure we will have some great years together to come." 

What are your thoughts on the direction they’re taking their football boots and the changes they’ve made in recent years? 

"I’m loving the current colour scheme of the most recent boot designs and am always looking forward to new designs coming out. I like a boot with some colour to it, so the latest colourway is definitely something that excites me. You can tell with the features of the new boots they have been bringing out that they are passionate about making their athletes better. I’m interested to see what’s to come!"

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