Jaap Stam (real name Jakob Stam, born July 17, 1972 in Kampen,
Netherlands) is a Dutch football player. He is seen as one of
the best defenders in the world. His nickname is 'de Rots van
Kampen' (the rock of Kampen).
Stam started his career with local amateur football club DOS
Kampen. In 1992, Stam made his professional debut for FC Zwolle.
Stam's breakthrough came in his first season at Willem II. A
shock 1-0 home victory over Ajax Amsterdam led to Stam's
transfer to PSV Eindhoven. Two and a half years later, Stam
became the then most expensive Dutch football player in history,
when Manchester United bought him for ƒ36m (about £10.5m). Stam
spent 3 seasons at Manchester United and won the Premiership, FA
Cup and the UEFA Champions League while with them. During the
2001-2002 season, Stam was controversially sold to S.S. Lazio in
Italy for ƒ55m (£16.5m), after Manchester United manager Sir
Alex Ferguson was reportedly furious with allegations Stam had
made in his autobiography 'Head to Head'. During his time with
Lazio, Stam was found guilty of having the banned steroid
nandrolone in his system following a Serie A game, and received
a 5-month ban, which was eventually reduced by a month after
appeals. Stam currently plays for Italian side A.C. Milan. On
January 30, 2006, it was announced that he would return to the
Dutch Eredivisie and play for Ajax, where he signed a two-year
conract. This came as a surprise to many, as it was expected he
would return to either his former club PSV, or SC Heereenveen.
Stam made his debut for Dutch national team on April 24, 1996,
in the 1-0 defeat to Germany. He has played 67 matches for the
Netherlands, scoring three goals and was an important player in
the Dutch team that finished fourth in the 1998 World Cup. At
Euro 2000, Stam missed an important kick in the penalty shootout
in the semi-finals, which led to the Dutch defeat against Italy.
Stam retired from international football after the Euro 2004
tournament in Portugal, saying he wanted to focus on AC Milan
and his family.