If you look at the 1990s there are not many footballers more intimidating than Dutchman Jaap Stam. Standing at 6 foot 3 and with a piercing stare you really didn’t want to get on the wrong side of him. Stam strikes me as the sort of man, who would genuinely intimidate an opponent and when you couple that level of intimidation with talent you’ve got a very very good player.
Name: Jakob Stam
Date of Birth: 17th July 1972
International Caps/Goals: 67/3
It is hard to imagine Jaap Stam as a young man, but everybody was young once and Stam began his life in the city of Kampen, born in 1972. He began playing for his local side as a teenager and in 1992 made the step up to the professional game with FC Zwolle in the Dutch 2nd division. His talent was immediately evident and after just a season with Zwolle the Dutchman moved up to the Dutch Premiership when he joined Cambuur Leeuwarden. In many ways Stam’s progression through Dutch football smacks of a classic journeyman player. Following 2 seasons with Leeuwarden he moved to Willem II another mid-table club in Holland. Then aged 26, after less than a season at Willem II, he got his break. Eredivisie giants PSV Eindhoven came knocking.
Stam moved to Eindhoven and became an integral part of a side who enjoyed a large amount of success including the league title, Dutch FA Cup and the Community Shield in each of Stam’s 3 seasons at the club. This success attracted the attention of Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United. The Old Trafford club made Stam the most expensive Dutchman and defender in the history of the game spending £10.6 million to bring him to Manchester. It didn’t take long for Stam to make an impact, as he became a daunting opponent for every Premier League team to face. With Stam in the centre of defence Manchester United won 3 consecutive league titles along with the historic treble in the 1998-99 season. His impact at Old Trafford cannot be understated but after the 2000-01 season the release of Stam’s autobiography Head to Head caused a rift with Sir Alex Ferguson who was angered by some of his comments, and sold Stam to Lazio; something that Ferguson has since admitted he regrets as he had wrongly assumed that Stam was a little past it.
Far from being past it at 29, Stam played for another 5 years at a high level. Lazio won the Coppa Italia in Stam’s final season at the club and he was then part of the AC Milan side who beat his former club in the 2004 Supercoppa Italia. Stam was again a Champions League finalist in 2005, this time as an AC Milan player, although this time he was on the losing side as Liverpool took the title. The big Dutchman finished his career back in Holland with Ajax, winning the Dutch FA cup in his final season.
One of the more successful centre backs in world football, a steely defender who could time a tackle with the best of them, Jaap Stam is undoubtedly worthy of a place in the Player Profile squad.