It’s been a big year for Jesse Lingard, with plenty of these choreographed goal celebrations to show off. He brings energy to the game, personality to the pitch and style to the streets of Manchester. Freshly picked by Gareth Southgate, we spoke to him about his World Cup dream for our '32/12' World Cup Special.

Jesse, what’s the first thing you think of when someone mentions the World Cup to you?

I just think of the trophy. That and the whole atmosphere that surrounds it. It’s probably the biggest event in the world. To be a footballer to play in that, it’s a great achievement in itself.

Which players have stood out as the greatest to you?

There are always going to be stand out players. Ultimately, the players that go to the World Cup have been deemed the best players for their country so if you do something good at the World Cup, then anything can happen after that.

Do you also like watching the underdogs that come with the World Cup?

Yeah I think so. There’s less pressures on underdogs as we can just go out there and try and perform. Although we still have to go into every game with that winning mentality.

Money and glamour of football aside, how different is the thought of going to a World Cup? Being part of that must be a special moment?

It’s a special moment for me but for my family as well. They’ve seen me grow up as a club footballer and I’ve been waiting for that international jump and now they’re able to see me as a player who has secured a spot in that World Cup squad.

With so many people watching it all and the world effectively stopping to soak up the tournament, does it come with a different kind of pressure?

No, I think you’ve just got to forget about that and focus on the next game ahead. For me, I’m going to go into it thinking it’s a normal game. You know that pressure that comes with football so you’ve just got to take it in your stride.


How much do you see it as a chance to show the world who you are personally?

Of course, it’s a big platform to showcase your talents and show people what you’re about so it’s a perfect opportunity to do that. With big arenas and big crowds, everyone is there to watch you perform.

With your experience for England to date, what’s that feeling like in the tunnel, those seconds you have before you go out?

It’s a great feeling. You just can’t wait to get out onto the pitch. If gives you a chance to show the world your talent and perform. As a squad and a group of players, we’ve got that understanding on the pitch that any game can take us very far in the World Cup.

What do you say to yourself before you go out on to the pitch for an international game? Are you a player that gets really focused or likes to go out there with a smile?

I think I’m a bit of both. In one sense you want to go out there to enjoy a game of football with your friends but in the back of your mind, you always have that winning mentality to go out there and win the game. So I think it’s a bit of both.

You’ve done so much in your career already and played on so many stages, do nerves ever creep in?

Yeah, it’s only natural for a footballer to have those nerves. As soon as you get out onto the pitch they go though. Once you start expressing yourself and it’s then about pushing yourself to the biggest heights you can reach.


How would you describe the atmosphere of an international game against say, a Champions League game?

They’re very different but you still get huge support from the fans of both sides. There are always going to be different atmospheres in different kind of games.

What music will be your essential go tos for the time away?

I have mixed types really, but mostly R&B and hip-hop with some grime in between. I might throw some dance music in there too.

Who or what would you put on pre-match if you can take control of the music in the England dressing room?

I’d probably put a bit of Drake on, maybe a little bit of MIST.

Musically with grime and the English dominance right now, we’re winning the game off the pitch for sure. Who have been your most played artists of 2018?

I’d probably say MIST, MoStack, Nines and Lowski.

Away from the World Cup, how much have you enjoyed being able to link up with the likes of MIST and Avelino recently?

Yeah it’s been good. I think music and football are integrating more than ever right now and it’s good to be a part of that. You can see the two worlds are very different but we’re both there to perform on a big stage and to entertain people. That’s our main focus.


Going back to the summer, having just been away with the England squad, there are a lot of contemporary players in that squad who like their style and their music. Would you see this as a new era almost?

You could say so. I think everyone is each to their own and we’re all different but the majority of us do all listen to the same music and like similar things.

Say you’re out there for 6 weeks, what’s the one pair of trainers you’d rely on?

Louis Vuitton runners [laughs].

How do you pack and prepare for a trip away that could be some time? How do you find a barber in Russia?

If your hair is in that much of a state then you’re going to have to try and get your barber over! Otherwise you’ve just got to take the general stuff really; boxers, socks, chargers, laptop and hopefully find a Netflix series to watch.

How much do you personally live off the fanfare and excitement that comes with a major tournament?

It’s massive. It’s global and a lot of eyes will be on you. You have to conduct yourself in the right manner and when you get on that pitch you have to give 100% for your country and for the staff and for those players who are beside you.

Do you ever have a minute and just think, “I’m going to the World Cup.” It’s dreamland stuff, right?

It is but you’ve always got to stay dreaming. If you work hard, hard work pays off and dreams do come true.

32 12 a world cup special by soccerbible_0004_3212 33.jpg

Read the full interview in '32/12' magazine by SoccerBible. Pick up the special 2018 Russia World Cup edition here.