During his time at Old Trafford Jaap Stam was arguably the best defender in the world. He played a crucial part in Manchester United's amazing treble winning season, culminating in that magical night in Barcelona when United beat Bayern Munich to win the Champions League. Immensely strong, a brilliant ball-winner and possessing a fantastic awareness that allowed him to break down attacks before they began, Jaap Stam was described by Dutch legend Johan Cruyff as "a one-man defence".
Stam started among the minor sides in Holland but a series of spectacular performances earned a move to PSV Eindhoven in 1996 where he won the Dutch Cup, Dutch Super Cup and Dutch league. In 1997 he was named Dutch Player of the Year. In 1998 Alex Ferguson paid a world record fee for a defender of £10.6 million to take him to Old Trafford, the team he had supported as a boy. Stam was soon patrolling the United backline with a menacing authority that made it one of the meanest defences in Europe.
Hugely popular among United fans, who coined a popular song in his honour, Stam helped United to three Premiership titles, an FA Cup, the Intercontinental Cup. There was also that famous Champions League title when the Old Trafford outfit fought back from a goal down to win the match in extra time. It was one of the greatest European finals ever and Stam had been a rock at the back.
In 2001 Stam joined Lazio for £16 million, winning the Italian Cup, before moving to Milan. In 2006 he returned to Holland with Ajax, winning the Dutch Cup and two Dutch Super Cups. Stam made 67 appearances in the famous orange shirt of the Netherlands, and was a key factor as Holland finished fourth in the 1998 World Cup and reached the semi-finals of Euro 2000 and Euro 2004 tournaments. Stam was simply one of the best defenders in the world and a United legend. Describing how he chose the United central defenders Alex Ferguson said: "Jaap Stam ? plus Another."