Stam: The Treble winner I'd love to sign for my team
Manchester United legend Jaap Stam is returning to Old Trafford on Sunday to play in the Treble Reunion game against Bayern Munich.
Now that the former defender is a manager, currently with PEC Zwolle in his native Netherlands, we asked him a hypothetical question: which of his 1998/99 colleagues would he most like to sign for his squad?
The former Reading boss was asked that tricky question when we caught up with him in advance of this weekend's charity game at the Theatre of Dreams, for which tickets are still available to buy online or by calling 0161 868 8000, with all proceeds going to the Manchester United Foundation.
With a wealth of talent to consider, Stam admitted
“that's a difficult one” before eventually plumping for Paul Scholes, who is also pulling on his boots to compete against Bayern this weekend.
“I think Scholesy was one of the best players I played with in my career from all my teams. He was probably the complete midfield player, he had everything. The goalscoring, his passing was very high quality, technically he was very strong, he could run and he wasn't afraid to put in a tackle as well. I would love to have signed him. Even now he can do it!
”Will I just give him the ball in Sunday's game? Well, I might keep it myself if I have it. When I played at United, sometimes if I went over the halfway line with the ball as a centre-back, Sir Alex would shout at me: ‘Jaap, don’t do that. Get the ball to the midfield players. We’ve got them to do that!’
“That’s how it goes. I think everybody needs to know their role, their part. I was brought in as a defender and you need to do your defensive job. Sometimes you can bring something extra to the game, but eventually you’ve got the other players in front of you for that, so I was always glad to have Scholesy to give the ball to.
”Sometimes I was a bit sneaky and kept the ball, took it forward and hopefully you’re going to get something out of it. It gives something extra to the fans as well, when they see you run with the ball. Of course, you need to do something good with it, but it was great to do it. You could feel the atmosphere, hear the crowd growing louder and that gives you a great feeling as a player.
“It’ll be great to sample that at Old Trafford again on Sunday.”
Now aged 46, Stam is relishing another opportunity to put on the red shirt and has been carefully planning his preparation for the game.
“I may look quite fit, but to be honest, I haven’t done a lot of work. I’ve played previous games for charity and did a lot of running beforehand, but I ruptured my calf and I don’t want to get injured before this particular game so I haven’t risked it.
”I’m jogging once in a while, plus I do play a bit with my current team. I play a bit with my sons too, so I can manage to run for half an hour at least. Luckily for me, I still have a brain, so I can use that as well! Sometimes it’s about being a bit cleverer than the other team, so hopefully my feet can still transfer what I want to do in my brain.
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