Jesse Lingard has revealed the significant impact Sir Alex Ferguson had on him breaking through at Manchester United, revealing that he told him in a meeting that he believed in him and that he'd eventually make it at the club.
The England midfielder has developed into one of United's most important first-team players over the last couple of seasons, although had previously spent time out on loan at the likes of Leicester City, Birmingham City and Derby County before establishing himself at Old Trafford in 2015-16.
And Lingard, who has made 23 appearances thus far in 2018-19, has revealed how he met with Sir Alex as a young player at the club and that he advised him to be patient, and that he would get his chance in his early 20's.
"Honestly, I don’t think I’d be here if it weren’t for Sir Alex. If it weren’t for the main man," Lingard wrote in a column for The Players' Tribune.
"One day, he had a meeting with me and my family. He sat us down in his office and he said, 'It’s going to take a while for you, Jesse. We believe in you. But you’re going to have to be patient. You’re not going to be ready for the first team until you’re 22 or 23'.
"I can’t even tell you how massive that was for me and my family. You’d think I’d be disappointed, but when an absolute legend like Sir Alex says they believe in you, that means everything. He didn’t have to meet with us, and he didn’t have to say that to me. But that’s why he’s Sir Alex, and that’s why Man United is Man United."
Lingard also discussed the moment he was called up to the first-team squad alongside Paul Pogba for a meeting with Newcastle back in January 2012, a game that the Red Devils would lose 3-0, with both players unused substitutes.
"I’ll never forget the day Sir Alex called me and Pogba up to the bench, away at Newcastle," he added. "We were 18, 19. I just remember looking around the dressing room and seeing all the legends preparing, pulling their socks on. Scholes. Rooney. Rio. Giggsy.
"Me and Pogs take our spot on the bench, and you know, we were used to playing in reserve games in front of 200 people. This is 50,000. I remember looking up at that massive glass stand at the one end, and it was shaking. And I looked over at Pogs like, 'Oh my gosh, if the gaffer actually puts me in, I might wet myself'.
"Lucky for me, we stayed on the bench that day. But that was such a big moment for me. Just to be thrown into the fire like that, and to get to wear the shirt for Sir Alex, it was massive for my belief.
"The truth is, I probably wasn’t ready. I can see that now. Sir Alex was bang-on about what he told me in that meeting years ago. I don’t know how he could see it, but he was right.
"I had to spend the next three years grafting, taking my lumps. I went on loan at Leicester, Birmingham, Brighton. I think those experiences were necessary. When you make it to the top, people see the glitz and the glamour, but they don’t see everything that went into it."
"They don’t see you living out of a Marriott in Leicester, eating room service for dinner every night, missing your family, doubting yourself, wondering if it’s ever going to happen for you.
"It’s funny, certain people will criticize me now because I’m always smiling out there on the pitch. But I’ll never stop being myself. I’ll never stop enjoying my football. I’ll never take the smile off my face when I step over the line, because I know what it means to wear this shirt.
"I know how lucky I am to do what I do for a living, and to represent this badge, and I’m never going to stop enjoying it for a minute."