-- Lingard lost 10-1 over two matches to ‘AJ’ as part of Gamers Without Borders
-- Pair shared banter as they played fundraising contest on EA SPORTS™ FIFA 21
-- Manchester United midfielder tried “rage-quitting” as AJ’s Liverpool triumphed
-- Raised $50k for charities distributing COVID-19 vaccines in vulnerable nations
June 22: England midfielder Jesse Lingard is convinced Anthony Joshua should swap his boxing gloves for a pair of football boots and get called-up to Gareth Southgate’s Euro 2020 squad after the world heavyweight champ demolished him 10-1 over two games of EA SPORTS™ FIFA 21.
The pair went toe-to-toe online as part of charity esports festival Gamers Without Borders yesterday as they did their part in helping unite gamers worldwide in the $10million fundraiser for COVID-19 vaccine distribution.
However, much like most folk who venture into the ring with the 2012 Olympic gold medallist, Lingard was swiftly floored by AJ, ripped apart 10-1 on aggregate by the boxing superstar’s Liverpool side in just two FIFA matches.
Joshua, who fights Olexandr Usyk later this year, had Mo Salah to thank, with the Egyptian forward scoring five of his ten goals.
Speaking afterwards, AJ joked: “I want to give credit to my opponent. He came with great enthusiasm and morale was high. I felt like I kept my team together, they gelled well, and we managed to get the victory. I just want to say thanks to the team and the management – I can’t wait to do it again, Jess!
“I don’t really play [FIFA] that much – but when I do play, I really play! That’s the difference!”
Knowing he was being poked fun at, Lingard – who played the best-of-three series first as Bayern Munich, then as Chelsea – responded: “He was hacking! I’m more of a Call of Duty man. Every time I get asked to do a charity event it always ends up being FIFA – and I always get absolutely slapped! It is for charity though, so I’ll always do it and give my best. AJ was the man and gets my respect though.”
Joshua then quipped that he would maybe now look to become either a footballer or full-time gamer after realising how good he was in beating Lingard at EA SPORTS™ FIFA 21, adding: “I don’t know where my career’s going to take me after what I just done!”
And Lingard – who spent last season on loan at West Ham United – was quick to reply, saying: “You know what? Get him up front! Ping the ball up to him, let him hold it up and give some little flick-ons. Let’s play off AJ!”
The pair’s $50k charity exhibition match was part of an epic opening weekend of Gamers Without Borders’ elite series: the first of six straight weeks of action featuring the world’s biggest and best esports athletes. Over its duration, more than $10million will go to humanitarian organisations distributing COVID-19 vaccinations in the world’s poorest countries: UNICEF, Gavi, Direct Relief, the International Medical Corps and the King Salman Humanitarian Aid & Relief Centre.
Speaking about his involvement in the festival, Joshua said: “It’s massive. Gamers Without Borders is the biggest charity esports I’ve ever heard of and is donating $10million towards the COVID vaccine and pushing for the world to get back to normal. Being involved I got to have fun playing FIFA with a fun, young audience, so those two things together I felt were great to be involved in.”
Lingard echoed that view, saying: “AJ hit the nail on the head. With the world as it is at the moment, were trying to get everything back on track. It’s the world’s biggest charity esports event and $10million can do a lot.”
After playing, the England midfielder took some time to reflect on his past season and his loan spell at West Ham in a live interview in Gamers Without Borders’ virtual studio.
He said: “The loan moved helped me. I wanted regular football and I spoke to Ole and he agreed, so sent me out on loan to West Ham. I think people at the time didn’t think I was ready to play, but I always do things behind closed doors to keep my fitness up. Then in the Aston Villa game I started really well with two goals and from then on carried on my form. It was about regular football and while I was there it was about fighting for European football, which was a great achievement when we made it into Europe.”
Lingard then admitted there was no hard feelings about missing out on England’s final squad for the Euros – and confirmed he will continue to support the team from back home.
He said: “I’m a fan as well [as a player]. I’ll always support my boys and always support England, like the whole nation. The first game I was in a beer garden with all the fans, which was fun seeing it from a different perspective. I really enjoyed it and I’ll carry on supporting them throughout the competition.
“I keep in touch with a lot of the lads so I know they’re staying positive and they’re ready for the next game [against Czech Republic]. I think we’ll definitely win, but they’re all tough games. You can see by the Scotland game – Scotland were well organised and fought well. Anyone can beat anyone on the day, but as long as England play with confidence, play with self-belief, stick to the game plan and stick to the principles, we’ll win.”