Jaap Stam has revealed that David Beckham tried to intervene to prevent the Netherlands international centre-back being sold by Manchester United to Lazio.
Stam, who turned out for the Old Trafford side from 1998-2001, was one of the game’s best centre-backs when he was let go by the Red Devils following controversial passages of his autobiography being published by the Daily Mirror.
The FC Cincinnati coach has revealed that while that was a catalyst to United offloading him, it was a deal that surprised everyone – including his club-mates.
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“Just after I arrived in Rome, I got a call from David Beckham,” he told FourFourTwo . “The United squad had spoken about it, and he expressed the general feeling among them that I should stay.
“My departure was a big blow to everyone, as nobody expected it to happen. It was nice to hear that from him, and it showed how close we were as a group. That made it tough to leave, but given the situation at the time, I felt it was better for me to go.”
Stam also revealed the torment that he suffered during the period extracts of his book were being released.
“When a paper buys the rights to publish extracts from a book, they can make up their own headlines – and that was what troubled me,” Stam said.
“It kept me awake at night, as I was wondering what would be in the paper the following day. 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. A week later, 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.
“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 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. It was a big shock.”
Stam went on to play with Lazio, AC Milan and Ajax before retiring in 2007.