Former Manchester United defender Jaap Stam says that the controversy surrounding the release of his book Head-to-Head gave the club a convenient excuse to move him on from Old Trafford.
However, he exited England for Lazio in the wake of media controversy that implied his manager had “tapped” him up and approached him without permission from then-club PSV Eindhoven when attempting to sign him.
Speaking to the Sky Sports Transfer Talk podcast, the 46-year-old, who is currently in charge of Eredivisie outfit PEC Zwolle, says that it simply presented an opportune moment to sell him following the arrival of several expensive stars.
“At the time they [United] used it,” Stam stated. “It was hard from out of the blue to say ‘okay we’re going to sell Jaap’ without any reason.
“It was quite convenient maybe that the book was there at that time. I think it is better to just be straightforward in how it is.”
The defender admitted that he did not expect to be shown the exit at the club, for whom he had recently signed a five-year deal, stating that the club felt they were on the way to invincibility.
“We kept on winning, we knew teams were getting afraid of us,” says Stam. "You have the feeling that you're becoming unbeatable.
“You don't think about leaving, basically.”
The big-money acquisitions of Ruud van Nistelrooy and Juan Sebastian Veron among others however saw a need to balance the financial books, with controversy associated with Head-to-Head ultimately paving the way for Stam’s exit.
The former AC Milan star stated that he did not expect the backlash and that he felt the media misrepresented what he described as an insight into life at United rather than an autobiography.
“I was completely shocked as to how it was put in the papers, because it was not how it was in the book,” he added.
“Fergie was very open, we just had a conversation and he expressed his feelings about me as a player basically.
“He told me not to worry about it, that he’d had the same with his own book.”
The damage was done with a serialisation in a leading newspaper while Stam was on international duty however and the club subsequently agreed to sell him to Lazio.
“Everyone at United knew how I was as a person, how I am as a person,” he said.
“I was never going to be on the bench for half a season and wait and wait for my opportunity again.
“I would have played eventually, I know that. But at the time, how everything went, the relationship was not how it was and I made my decision to move on.”