Former Manchester United defender Jaap Stam has opened up on his exit from the Old Trafford club, which was a shock at the time. We all knew the story about the Dutchman’s United career ending at a petrol station, which seems strange but also underlined the fact that Ferguson was a guy that demanded the best, doing what he needed to do, wherever it was.
During his four seasons at United, Stam won three Premier League titles, one FA Cup, one UEFA Champions League and one Intercontinental Cup. It was a vert successful four seasons at the club and if he had not been forced out, that success could have continued for a few more seasons or more, which is a shame.
Stam played for Lazio, AC Milan and Ajax after leaving United and started management in 2016, managing Reading, then moving to PEC Zwolle, Feyenoord and he is currently managing MLS side FC Cincinnati, although they are yet to play a game with Stam managing them because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Ferguson reacted to Stam’s autobiography, which forced his exit from the club. Stam said that Ferguson had previously told him not to worry about it but that soon grew into a big problem. It was a big shock at the time but we all know that Ferguson was ruthless and because of that, was a very respected figure. Speaking about his book, Stam said:
“Initially, Ferguson had told me not to worry about it, but on Wednesday – the morning of the match – I was informed that I should report for talks with him the next day, because he wasn’t happy about some of it.
“After the game, I went home and reported the next morning at 8am, because I was keen to resolve the matter. I said, ‘You know what’s in the book – nothing bad.’ But he maintained that he wasn’t happy.
“I was left out for a game against Blackburn. On the day, he called me to say I wasn’t in his squad because of the book hassle. He felt it might calm down if I wasn’t playing. We had a few conversations, although none of them were really satisfactory.”
Perhaps, after a few days, things might have quietened down on the matter, but that did not happen. Stam missed the match against Blackburn Rovers and despite a few conversations with the gaffer, nothing was solving the problem of the book. It is often something that many think about and what could have happened is Stam had stayed.
As time went on, Ferguson’s upset festered and despite Stam training at the club training ground, presumably seeing Ferguson on a daily basis, it clearly did not solve anything. Ferguson had sold the player to Lazio for £16 million, which is what Lazio said they paid, a rise on the £10.5 million United had paid for him in 1998. Stam concluded by saying:
“A bit later that week, I was driving home from training when my agent phoned, telling me I’d been sold. I was like, ‘What?!’ He said, ‘Yeah, they’ll contact you in a minute.’
“Moments later, Ferguson called me and asked where I was. We lived in the same area, and he told me to wait for him so that we could have a chat.
“I pulled into a petrol station near a shopping centre and he met me there. When he arrived, he got in my car and told me that the club had accepted an offer from Lazio. Within 24 hours, I’d gone to Rome and joined Lazio.”
Ferguson admitted that he regretted selling Stam all those years before, which does not make the matter any better but is as close as you would get to an apology from the gaffer. Stam brought his Reading side to Old Trafford in the FA Cup on the 7 January 2017 and saw his side defeated 4-0. He has played at Old Trafford for Soccer Aid and in a United legends side since his departure