Jesse Lingard says he chose Manchester United ahead of Liverpool as a youngster
Last Updated: 17/11/15 5:03pm
Up-and-coming Manchester United forward Jesse Lingard has revealed that he turned down Liverpool as a youngster in favour of the Old Trafford club.
The 22-year-old is enjoying a breakthrough campaign, having scored his first goal for United in the 2-0 home win over West Brom on 7 November.
And he was called into the England senior squad for the first time on Sunday ahead of Tuesday night's friendly against France.
He spoke to my grandad and offered me trials but there was also interest from Liverpool and I had to pick. I was only young but obviously my heart was with United at the time.
International honours would represent the end of a climb that began in United's youth system but Lingard told MUTV he almost came through the ranks at Liverpool.
"I was at a local club Penketh United and Mike Glennie, a Manchester United scout, came to watch me," he said.
"He spoke to my granddad and offered me trials but there was also interest from Liverpool and I had to pick. I was only young but obviously my heart was with United at the time.
"Going through the years, I was with Larnell Cole, Mike and Will Keane, Sam [Johnstone], Ravel [Morrison] and Tunners [Ryan Tunnicliffe].
"There are a lot of lads still doing their thing at other clubs and they're happy seeing me where I am.
"I've won a lot of trophies, like the FA Youth Cup and the Reserves league a couple of times, but it would top it off to win the Premier League with the first team."
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Lingard appreciates his career could easily have gone the other way, as many considered him too small for professional football in his formative years.
Now 5ft 9in, he is still smaller than many of his opponents but has now developed physically.
Lingard admits even he questioned what lay in store for him when he was playing in the U15 Premier Cup for United and the 2008 Nordic Tournament with England's U17s.
He said: "Personally I didn't think I was ready for England then as I was so small compared to the other players.
"I've got a picture at home and the shirt is down to my knees but I was obviously going to play and represent my country after getting the call.
"As for the Premier Cup, I was still tiny then too. I've got a pic on my Instagram of me going up against these two big lads."
Lingard began to progress at a greater rate in United's academy and added: "In my first year, I didn't really play for the U18s because of my physique.
"I played a few games with the U16s but I started kicking on a bit in the second year with the U18s and as soon as I was in the reserves.
"For the transition from the U18s to the reserves, I was with Warren [Joyce, reserves coach] in the gym every day.
"They could have let me go because of my height and I would now be playing somewhere else but they stuck with me. They saw my ability and I'm thankful for that."