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  • Writer's pictureSimon Basten

Jaap Stam

Jaap Stam must be considered one of the greatest defenders of all time, on a par with Alessandro Nesta.

Source Wikipedia

Strong, powerful, fast, mean, he had all the qualities a defensive player needed. He also looked frightening at times!!!! In his career he won a Dutch Championship (PSV Eindhoven 1996-97), three Premierships (1998-99, 1999-00, 2000-01 with Manchester United), a Champions League (1998-99 with Man U), an Intercontinental Cup (1999 again with Man U), two KNVB Cups (PSV Eindhoven in 1995-96 and Ajax in 2006-07), a FA Cup (1998-99 with Man U), a Coppa Italia with Lazio (2003-04), a Super Coppa (2004 with Milan), and four Johan Cruyff Shields (1996 and 1997 with PSV, 2006 and 2007 with Ajax). That is a lot of silverware!!!

He was born in Kampen on July 17, 1972 and began his career in the local team. He made his professional debut for FC Zwolle in the Eerste Divisie (second tier) on August 15 1992 and became a first team regular. In 1993 he signed with Cambuur Leeuwarden in Eredivisie but the club was relegated at the end of the season. Stam stayed however and in 1995 moved up to the top tier by signing with Willem II. He impressed so much that after a year he moved to PSV Eindhoven. There he won everything he could possibly win at domestic level and in 1998 Manchester United bought him for a record £10.6 million, the highest amount paid for a Dutch player up to then.

With United, Stam dominated European and English football for three years winning literally everything, including the treble. In 2000-01 however he suffered a bad injury. Manager Sir Alex Ferguson thought he would never be the same. “He’d been out for months and, when he came back, Steve McClaren and I thought he had lost a yard of pace. We played Fulham and he didn’t have a good game, and at that moment Lazio came in and offered £16.5m. That was a lot of money for a centre back”.

Lazio President had had a plan in the summer transfer window of 2001, to Sell Nesta and buy Stam. He could not get the right price for his star defender and captain but decided to sign Stam just the same. So the big Dutch defender joined the Biancocelesti. Having Stam and Nesta in the team must be every manager's dream, but Lazio had a poor year and a mediocre manager (Alberto Zaccheroni). Stam was also suspended for four months when they found nandrolone in his blood, a banned substance. As a consequence he only played 18 games. In the next two years under Roberto Mancini, Lazio played quite well and Stam was almost perfect. Loved by the fans, feared by opponents, his defence partners really enjoyed themselves. In a match against Ancona, Pietro Parente had the brilliant idea of trying to kick Stam after a tackle. The Dutchman got up and grabbed his opponent by the throat. In the footage one can see the look of fear on the player's face.

Ultimately Stam played three years in Rome appearing 94 times and scoring 4 goals. He was part of the team which won the Coppa Italia in 2004.

In his last year at Lazio, the club was in serious financial difficulty so there was no chance his contract could be renewed. Mancini tried all year to get him to sign for Inter, where he himself was going , but Stam preferred Milan so Lazio sold him to the Rossoneri. Despite being one of the strongest defenders in Serie A when he played with Lazio, with Milan he was not quite as effective but was still pretty good. The Rossoneri reached the final of the Champions League in 2005 against Liverpool. Milan were 3-0 up at the end of the first half, in the second however, the Reds scored three goals in six minutes to equalise. Milan then lost on penalties.

In 2006 he went back home and joined Ajax where he played his final two years of active football winning more silverware. Plagued by injuries he announced his retirement on October 29 2007.

Stam had a lengthy international career playing 67 times for his country (three goals). He participated in the 1998 World Cup (The Netherlands arrived 4th), Euro 2000 (beaten by Italy in the semi-final) and Euro 2004 (beaten by Portugal in the semi-final).

After retirement, Stam went into coaching. After being a talent scout for Manchester United from 2008-11 he became caretaker manager for Zwolle in 2009 and in 2010 assistant to manager Art Langler. In 2011 he joined the Ajax youth sector and in 2013 he was assistant to Frank de Boer. In 2014 he became manager of Jong Ajax (Ajax’s second team) with Andries Ulderink.

In 2016 he became head coach of Reading in the Championship. The team reached the play-off final but were beaten by Huddersfield Town. He resigned in 2018. In December 2018 he was nominated head coach for Pec Zwolle taking the team from third bottom to 13th place. For the next season he was manager at Feyenoord but resigned in October. In May 2020 he became head coach at FC Cincinnati but the team came last in the MLS and he was sacked.

Stam now does punditry for Viaplay Sport, a streaming service.

Jaap Stam is very fondly remembered at Lazio and together with Pino Wilson and Nesta, he is one of the strongest centre backs Lazio have ever had.

Lazio Career


Total appearances (goals)

Serie A

Coppa Italia

Champions League



18 (1)

13 (1)











42 (3)

29 (2)


7 (1)



94 (4)

70 (3)


12 (1)




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