Stoke-on-Trent (United Kingdom) (AFP) – He may have found himself alongside Wayne Rooney on the Manchester United’s substitutes’ bench, but for fellow Old Trafford forward Jesse Lingard the record-breaking goal-scorer remains a role model.
Rooney surpassed Bobby Charlton’s tally of 249 goals for United when he scored with a superb curling free-kick deep into stoppage-time to secure a 1-1 draw away to Stoke City in the Premier League on Saturday.
The 250th goal of Rooney’s glittering United career was just the 31-year-old’s fifth of a difficult season and came as a timely reminder of the striker’s class after he was relegated to the role of a fringe player for long periods this term.
United manager Jose Mourinho turned to young strikers Lingard and Marcus Rashford as well as veteran England captain Rooney, with all three players coming off the bench as United went in search of an equaliser at the Britannia Stadium.
But it was Rooney who rescued the point that extended United’s unbeaten run to 17 matches in all competitions as he topped a record set by England great Charlton that had stood for 44 years.
“It’s an excellent record and for the young strikers coming through, Wayne has set a great example for them and we look up to him as a great leader and role model,” said the 24-year-old Lingard.
“It was mixed emotions afterwards, but we know it’s a great record that Wayne has set and it’s a great standard for the youngsters to look up to.”
He added: “It was a great finish. If we had played a bit longer, I think we would have won the game. We created a lot of chances throughout the game, but that’s football.”
– ‘Never say die’ –
Although it was very much a case of two points dropped rather than one gained for United, especially given other results in the Premier League’s top six, Lingard refused to give up hope of his side forcing their way into title contention.
The young England star pointed to the unbeaten run, saying: “I think we have that mentality and never-say-die attitude. We drew here and we move on.
“I think at the moment we are taking every game as it comes. We’ve seen the table. We’re not too far off second. Everything is still possible at the moment.”
Stoke were left cursing the fact that they couldn’t hold on in injury time, after mounting stern resistance in attempting to hold on to a rather fortunate lead.