Manchester United's Jesse Lingard exclusive: Criticism won't make me change
MANCHESTER, England -- Manchester United attacker Jesse Lingard has told ESPN FC that criticism of his larger-than-life personality and off-field interests won't make him change.
Lingard has starred for both United and England on the pitch but has, at times, received criticism for his online presence -- where he has 6.2 million followers on Instagram and another 1.3m on Twitter -- and dedicating time to projects away from football.
One of those is his clothing label, JLingz, and Lingard said a range called "Be Yourself" has been inspired by some of the negative attention he has received for showing off his individuality.
"When I was younger, I used to get criticised a lot for doing stuff off the field but at the end of the day I was just being me," Lingard told ESPN FC during an interview at his Cheshire home. "I wasn't trying to impress anyone or anything like that.
"I was just being myself and that's the main reason why I started to use that slogan [Be Yourself] and to put it into a clothing brand.
"It's good to get it out there to the people. Someone might want to speak up and they might be afraid and stuff like that, so it's more about people being themselves and standing up for what they know."
As well as accounts on Instagram and Twitter, Lingard has launched a YouTube channel that already has close to 250,000 subscribers and has starred in advertising campaigns for JD Sports and Coca-Cola.
However, the 26-year-old said the most important thing is his day job.
"Of course, I'm a footballer first," he said. "But off the field, I've got the YouTube channel and my clothing line.
"I like to be different -- unique at the same time. I class myself as a footballer but maybe an influencer off the pitch. [The social media] is to let people try and see what I get up to off the pitch. I think it's good for the fans to get an insight into what I get up to."
Lingard has become known for his goal celebrations, including doing the moonwalk after finding the net in a 3-1 win over Arsenal at the Emirates in January.
One of the first was a J-L hand gesture after scoring in a 2-1 win over West Brom at the Hawthorns in December 2017 and the forward revealed it was something he plotted with pal Marcus Rashford the night before the game.
"Before a match against West Brom away, me and Marcus [Rashford] were in the room the night before just thinking of what sort of hand celebrations we could do," Lingard said. "We were trying loads of things and I was trying to make a J and an L.
"I said if I score, I'll do it and obviously I scored that day and I did it but people were kind of like: 'What's he doing?'
"No one really knew what it was about and then people got wind of it being a J and an L."