Jesse Lingard is not the first player that aspiring young football fans pick out as the man they want to be when they grow up, but he has quickly turned into the kind of example many parents would like their children to follow.
The Manchester United attacker netted the two goals which took his side past Swansea City and into the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup on Tuesday but unfettered praise for Lingard remains in short supply thanks to the insistence on accentuating his shortcomings whatever his achievements.
United is a club which has welcomed through its doors some of the most talented players in the world over the course of its history. And while it is safe to say that the 24-year-old is nowhere near the head of that list there is also an argument to say that many of their achievements would not have been possible without players of his attitude and determination.
When United’s beaten players trudged off in the wind and rain in Huddersfield on Saturday they did so with the acceptance that they had been short of the required levels of passion and desire. But in Lingard they have a team-mate who has built his career on just such qualities.
He may not have the obvious talents of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, the presence of Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba or the skill set of Ander Herrera, but Lingard has the drive that has earned him a place on the field alongside more naturally talented footballers.
Yet too often during his United career that has been used as a stick to beat him with rather than a reason to celebrate his achievements. He is not somebody who has forgotten himself either. Videos of him stopping for a kickabout on a council estate and paying for a round at Hotel Football across from Old Trafford following the final league game of last season are proof that he still has his feet on the ground.
And on a night when United needed to show the kind of attitude they had been missing at the John Smith’s Stadium three days ago, it was the one man who has shown it by the bucket-load to forge a career for himself who delivered.
First he keep his cool to slot beyond Kristoffer Nordfeldt after being sent free by Rashford’s wonderful flick from an Ander Herrera pass, then he headed into the far corner from a lofted cross by Matteo Darmian to settle the contest.
Of course, there will be greater tests of United’s character to come, not least on Saturday when they host in-form Tottenham at Old Trafford. But Jesse Lingard will rarely be found wanting when United’s attitude, guts and fight are called into question. They are the kind of qualities many an aspiring footballer would do well to hold most dear to their hearts.