The Dutchman's exclusive chat with the official United magazine is the latest interview to feature in our series of classic content from the archives. Stam discussed the early stages of his career and life with United as well as other interesting topics.
You were a late developer and were training to be an electrician before joining FC Zwolle..
I decided to give up the course but didn't see it as a risk. I was just delighted I was going to do my hobby for a living. Who wouldn't want to swap school for football? My parents stressed the value of education but they thought it was a great opportunity so they said try it and see how far you can get.
Where would you be if you had elected to stay on the electricians' course?
I'd be at work somewhere now, probably preparing some lightbulbs for installation.
Have you always been a defender?
I wasn't keen to just stand around at the back. I wanted to score goals from midfield and be like my hero, Jan Wouters. It wasn't until I was 17 years old that I moved back to defence. Coaches realised that, with my height and size, I was better at the back. Now I probably enjoy a last-ditch tackle as much as scoring a goal.
Have you learnt the art of tackling?
I try to stay on my feet for as long as possible. I only go to ground and make a sliding tackle if it's absolutely necessary - if I can't reach the player in time. You're vulnerable if you don't stay at your feet. I like to usher strikers to the side and use my strength to win the ball. When I am level with them, I try to get my body between them and the ball, and then turn away with the ball. One of my best assets is my strength. I don't want to sound