Jesse Lingard is a sensation in South Korea

Why Korean fans are literally queuing for hours to get a glimpse of England's forgotten talent 🇰🇷

Lingard ahead of his debut for FC Seoul

In England, Jesse Lingard is a forgotten man. Once a promising starlet emerging through Man United’s youth ranks, Lingard never fully lived up to his potential in England, struggling with injuries and personal issues that caused him to waver through extended loan spells with clubs competing in as low as the country’s third tier.

From 2016-21, he made 32 appearances for England’s national team, where his primary role was to act as a punching bag for the English media. “Lingardinho” was often criticized for his off-the-field endeavors such as starting his own clothing brand, JLingz  as much as his lackluster performances on the pitch, and has become symbolic of the Three Lions’ struggles in the Gareth Southgate era.

Utter his name in any pub from Plymouth to Newcastle and you’ll be meet with teeth-bearing grimaces, if not audible sighs. That’s anything but the case in South Korea, where Lingard is a star. 🇰🇷 

“The biggest signing in K-League history”

After not having a club for over eight months, Lingard signed with FC Seoul in South Korea’s K-League in February. While there’s an established path of washed-up footballers signing with Chinese and Japanese clubs for a late-career payday, no high-profile footballer has signed with a Korean club until now. This is exactly what makes Lingard so special.

The 31-year-old signed a two-year, $2.3 million deal with Korea’s most popular club, and instantly became the biggest signing in the league’s history – but not just in financial terms.

Queuing for hours: Korean soccer fans are flocking to Seoul in record numbers for a glimpse of the K-League’s new crown jewel.

  • Tickets for Lingard’s debut, away at Gwangju, sold out in two minutes and 30 seconds.

  • 51,670 fans attended FC Seoul’s home opener against Incheon on Sunday – more than double their average attendance from last season.

Fans started queuing outside the Seoul World Cup Stadium up to four hours before kickoff, many of them waiting to shop at a merchandise tent that exclusively sold number ten Lingard shirts.

The craziest part about all of this is that Lingard isn’t even starting yet.

Finding his feet

While one glance at Lingard’s Instagram will tell you that he’s in good shape, he played only 86 minutes of competitive soccer in 2023. This was glaringly obvious when watching his first two appearances for the club.

After coming off the bench in the 77th minute against Gwangju, he was booked for a reckless challenge for which he was lucky to not receive a red card. Against Incheon, Lingard wowed the crowd with a couple incisive passes, but evidently left his shooting boots at home when he hoofed a right-footed effort into the stratosphere.

Seoul fans will have to be patient with Lingard, who admits he still has some work to do to return to match fitness. For now, the Far East’s newest superstar is “blessed and grateful” to simply be back on the pitch doing what he loves. ❤️