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Jesse Lingard's first FC Seoul press conference

Jesse Lingard met the nation's media on Thursday morning after completing his move to FC Seoul. The 31-year-old declared that he is in K league to win trophies and also said that he doesn't think it'll take him too long to get match fit, despite last playing in October.
Image via FC Seoul press release

The moment FC Seoul fans had been waiting for. Jesse Lingard was announced as a new signing on Thursday morning after arriving in the country on Monday and completing a medical the following day.

At a press conference at Seoul World Cup Stadium on Thursday, the former Manchester United and England winger fielded questions on a range of topics.

On joining FC Seoul:

“I’m very excited. It’s a new challenge. I’ve accepted it, I’m here and I’m ready to embrace the culture. It’s a new beginning for me, a new chapter in my career. I just want to enjoy playing football again, putting a smile on people’s faces and showing Korean fans what I can do.”

Why FC Seoul and K League

“Over the summer I had multiple offers and when FC Seoul came into the equation, the commitment that they showed, they came to Manchester to watch me train, I got put through some tests by the physios in Manchester, they came with the contract on paper so I think the commitment shown by the club really in my mind, I had already made up where I wanted to go because, as I say, there was multiple offers, they was all verbal offers, but the commitment shown by FC Seoul showed how much interest and how much they wanted me at the club so it was only right for me to repay that and come to the club.”

On his current fitness:

“I think over the last eight months, being without a club is hard but my mindset is to never give up. Like I say, it was tough but I knew by January I needed to sign for a club. I was training pretty much every day. I had my birthday celebrations and then after that it was a strict program of training every couple of days throughout the week. I flew to Dubai, I had my own personal trainer so I was training there two times a day for two weeks and came back in great condition, physically, spiritually, mentally and in great position to sign for a club. Of course, I’m not match fit at the moment, I’ve not played a game since I think late October but it shouldn’t take me too long to catch up to my fitness.”

On playing with and against another ex-Premier League player Ki Sung-yeung:

“Yeah, he’s a very good player – a very technical player. I was blessed to play against him a few times when he was at Swansea. I know what he can bring to the team, I know his strengths and the synergy we can create on the pitch will work out perfect.”

On whether the process of signing for FC Seoul was smooth with other clubs interested:

“I don’t think, in football, anything’s smooth really. Negotiations take a lot of time, there’s a lot of people that become involved and it can get messy but I had the right team around me at the time of this deal and we thought we co, we negotiated it within two or three days. Everyone was happy with the deal and now I’ve finally signed I can concentrate on my football and I’m looking forward to getting back on the pitch and winning with FC Seoul because I’m a winner, I’m a competitor and I want to win trophies while I’m here.”

[READ: FC Seoul sign Jesse Lingard]

On what he knew about K League beforehand and what are his targets for goals and assists:

“Yeah, I’d heard about the K League before. Not so much but I came here to embrace the culture, learn new things, learn more about the K League; make it more global than it already. Personal goals, I have them written down back at home but it’s about the team and I want to play for the team and we want to win every game that we can so I think team spirit is going to be vitally important this season. As long as we stick together as a team we’ll win as many matches as we can.

“I understand, though, the fans are very passionate. They show a lot of emotional support towards the players. The welcome at the airport was amazing, it’s something that I’d never seen before so I’d like to thank the fans for that as well.”

On what was said to him from friends and family about moving to Korea:

“I don’t think it’s down to anyone really… well everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, at the end of the day, but I know what’s best for me, what’s best for my career. Like I said, having my family around me and my team around me at the times of negotiations and speaking to other teams, it’s perfect for me to come to the K League, make the K League more known than it already is, do well here and my main thing was to play football and that’s all I wanted to do, get back on the pitch and show people what I can do still.”

On whether his businesses, esports in particular, have been a factor and how he can balance them with football:

“I keep my football and business separate. Football comes first, that’s my main priority, it’s to play football and to do well on the pitch, to win games, to help my teammates – that’s first and foremost, that’s the most important thing. That’s why I’ve made the move out here. The rest of it just follows, really. With esports, it’s massive out here and eventually we’ll get into that but for now, it’s all football focus.”

On the size of his contract size and whether he’s here with family:

“I can’t disclose anything about the contract, it’s private between me and the club but my team’s here, my commercial manager, financial director, and the director of my commercial team who’s my closest friend since nine years old. They’re all out here at the moment and then eventually when I’ve settled in I’ll bring my daughter over and also my family as well.”

On the Korean traditional wind instrument ‘danso’ he was given at the airport and whether he’s tried using it yet:

“No, I’ve not tried it at home yet but I’ll have to get some practice in. I’ve received so many gifts, even at the airport and hotel that I’m staying at and I really appreciate that, the love and support never go unnoticed. I wish I could take a picture and sign everyone’s shirts but the fans I meet I’ll take a picture with them, all the support and love means a lot.”

On his first impressions of Korea so far:

“It looks amazing at the moment. I’ve not really had much chance to explore too much at the moment, obviously dealing with the contract and things like that. But now I’m settled and the contract’s sorted I’ll be able to explore Korea a lot more. It’s bigger than I thought, to be honest. Like I said, the people are lovely and I can’t wait to explore a little bit more now.”

On adapting to Korean culture:

“I feel like most places that I’ve moved to, I can adapt to a new environment and new league. Of course, it’s a lot different now, obviously moving country, playing in a team abroad and moving away from my family will always be difficult but I’m always up for the challenge, and I can always adapt to any culture which I’ll look forward to. So, like I say, I’m really excited to adapt into that.”

On his first move abroad, and whether he spoke to Park Ji-sung or anyone else about moving to Korea:

“No, I didn’t speak to any other footballers specifically. I kind of wanted to do my own research. And for that I sent my friends out here two weeks ago to check out the place. They enjoyed it. They said it would be good for me and like I say, it’s just be embracing the culture now, adapting as quickly as possible, helping the team, winning games, and getting on that pitch as soon as possible.”

On impressions of Kim Gi-dong and what he knows about him:

“Like I said, I’m still learning, still learning about the club. But I know that he plays aggressive football, he’s a winner, he wants to win games and I think that’s vitally important. But I’ve had managers over the years, take Jose (Mourinho) for instance, he’s a born winner, he knows how to win games, and I think that’s vitally important in a head coach and a manager.”

On his best position and will he have a special celebration in K League:

“I think, naturally growing up, I’ve always played as a number 10 but because of my height when I was younger I always used to play off the left wing and I’ve become comfortable there, it’s my more natural position coming in off the left and scoring goals/ I’ve been used to that so I think my best position is off the left and if not off the left then I’d probably say number 10 but, like I say, I can still play off the wing or I can still play up front, centre mid, so I’m available for all them positions. Regarding celebrations, my signature JLingz celebration will always be special but right now I need to knuckle down, get match fit, get on the pitch as soon as possible and get scoring some goals.”

On when he thinks he’ll be match fit:

“My condition’s good. I’ve been training really hard back in Manchester and when I was in Dubai. Like I say, I’m not match fit at the moment with my last game being late October but I’m not too far off being match fit. I look after my body very well, eating the right things, I don’t drink so I’m not too far off being match fit. I just want to get ready now and go meet the team and the fans and start training.”

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