The Dutchman had a trophy-laden playing career and was a key piece of the 1999 treble-winning Man United side. He also added two more Premier League titles to his trophy cabinet, as well as numerous pieces of silverware on the continent.
Internationally, Stam was a rock at the back of some talented Netherlands sides that reached the semi-finals of the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000. Unfortunately, these teams came up short on the silverware front.
Having played for some of Europe’s biggest clubs, Stam boasts an impressive collection of former teammates. During a sit-down talk on the OTB Sports roadshow, the Dutchman recalled some big names as he was asked to choose his ultimate five-a-side team.
GK: Peter Schmeichel
Starting off Stam’s excellent small-sided squad is a fellow treble winner, as he chose Peter Schmeichel to go between the sticks.
“His reach is enormous,” explained Stam, quoted via OTBSports.com. “But his reactions were so good as well, and that is why I picked him. It gives you a great feeling of security, knowing that Peter is there to help out as well.”
The Great Dane was vital to the success of Sir Alex Ferguson’s United sides of the 1990s. In addition, Schmeichel boasts a European Championship in his trophy cabinet. He played every match as Denmark improbably won the 1992 Euros. This international trophy undoubtedly helped solidify his legacy as one of the all-time great goalkeepers.
Defender: Alessandro Nesta
“He was like the modern defender. He was very comfortable on the ball.”
A two-time Champions League winner with Milan, Nesta actually established himself as a top defender at Lazio.Hee won a Serie A title and a Cup Winners’ Cu during his spell in the Italian capitalp.
As Stam mentions, many people rated Nesta for his on-ball ability as much as his defensive class. He makes the perfect defender for the tight and technical five-a-side as a result.
Midfielder: Andrea Pirlo
Another AC Milan player, the Dutchman selected Andrea Pirlo for his elite technical skills in small spaces. Interestingly, Jaap Stam has opted for two midfielders, rather than picking a second defender.
“You can always give him the ball,” he said. “Even when he is the one under pressure, he knows what to do and how to make the right decision.”
Andrea Pirlo was a pass master who helped guide AC Milan to incredible success during the 2000s. He won two Champions Leagues with La Rossoneri before adding numerous Serie A titles to his trophy cabinet at Juventus. Pirlo ran Italy’s midfieldon the international stage as they won the 2006 World Cup.
Midfielder: Paul Scholes
Moving away from Milan, Stam completed his midfield with another great who had elite vision and technical ability – Paul Scholes.
“His quality was outstanding in terms of on-the-ball, his touch, his passing, his work rate and sense of feeling where the space was and where he needed to be.”
One of the finest midfielders to ever grace the Premier League, Scholes helped Man United become the dominant side of the 1990s and 2000s. He picked up eleven Premier League titles, plus featured heavily in the Red Devils’ treble-winning season.
With a midfield of Pirlo and Scholes, Jaap Stam may have picked a combination that never gives the opposition the ball. But who will get the goals?
Stam and ‘O Fenomeno’ were teammates very early on in their careers, at PSV Eindhoven. At the time, the Dutchman was 23, and Ronaldo was just 19 years old. However, even then, Stam could see the incredible ability that the Brazilian possessed.
“He had so much quality. It was just unbelievable,” reminisced the Dutchman.
“With the ball at his feet, he was faster than most players are running without it. It was exceptional seeing a player that comfortable with the ball.”
In the latter year, Ronaldo won the World Cup with Brazi in the latter yearl, impressively scoring twice in the final. This added to O Fenomeno’s 1994 World Cup medal, for which he was a squad member.
Widely hailed as one of the greatest attackers of all time, it is unsurprising that Jaap Stam put him up front.
The side that Stam has built from his crop of former teammates is truly unbelievable. You would not want them to turn up at your local five-a-side, that’s for sure.
Featured image credit: Getty