Jaap Stam played in one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s greatest ever Manchester United teams, but he clearly had respect for his old Arsenal adversaries. In an interview with The Times, he gave his all-time team-mate XI. And it’s one hell of a team:
Goalkeeper – Edwin van der Sar
You’d think it would be a given that Stam would choose Schmeichel between the sticks, but instead he went with fellow Dutch legend, Edwin van der Sar. He played with the goalkeeper – who thrived at Ajax, Juventus and Manchester United – for their country between the mid ’90s until the early 2000s.
Defender – Cafu
Cafu and Stam were part of Milan’s wrought-iron defence in the 2003-04 Serie A-winning season. Milan steamrolled their way to the title, and only lost two games that season.
Defender – Paolo Maldini
Few would argue with Maldini’s selection in Stam’s team-mate XI. Maldini – like his father – captained Milan to Champions League success. A legend of the modern game and a one-club man who spent 24 seasons at the club he loved.
Defender – Alessandro Nesta
One of the many great Italian defenders, Nesta was at the heart of Milan’s defence alongside Stam. He was a rock at the back, picking up a sackful of trophies for plugging away behind the likes of Clarence Seedorf, Gennaro Gattuso, Massimo Ambrosini and Andrea Pirlo.
Paolo Maldini (left) and Alessandro Nesta were rock-solid at Milan[/caption]
Defender – Denis Irwin
The only non-Milan player in Stam’s back four, Denis Irwin was one of Ferguson’s unsung heroes. He made more than 500 appearances for Manchester United and could take a mean penalty.
Midfielder – Roy Keane
Like Maldini in Serie A, Roy Keane was an icon of the Premier League in the 1990s. Pivotal to United’s sustained success with his bullish approach to the beautiful game, Keane seems an obvious choice for Stam’s XI.
Midfielder – Clarence Seedorf
Another of Stam’s countrymen makes the grade. Seedorf picked up five Champions League trophies in his time as a player. A feat all the more remarkable when you consider that he managed it with three different clubs.
Attacking midfielder – Dennis Bergkamp
We’ve had Denis, now it’s time for Dennis. One of the classiest players of a generation, Bergkamp dazzled for Ajax, Inter Milan and Arsenal. But he turned out for Stam on numerous occasions for Holland, most notably during the 1998 World Cup, when Bergkamp scored that goal against Argentina.
Winger – Marc Overmars
The Dutch legends are piling into Stam’s team. Another Arsenal legend makes his team-mate XI. This time, it’s the lightning-quick Overmars, who also played with Stam at international level.
Winger – Ryan Giggs
Another Manchester United player gets the nod. Like Maldini, Ryan Giggs was part of United’s first-team for 24 years. Like Maldini, he was left-footed. Like Maldini, he was incredibly successful. And Stam had the pleasure of sharing a pitch with both of these modern greats.
Striker – Ronaldo
You don’t need two up front when you’ve got this bloke up there. Early in a glittering career that was blighted by injury, ‘the original’ Ronaldo played with Stam at PSV Eindhoven, where he managed 35 goals in 36 games. Oooof.