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On this day in 1972, one of the greatest defenders of his generation was born

Jaap Stam enjoyed a superb career at club and international level.

soccer-fa-carling-premiership-jaap-stam-photocall-old-trafford Jaap Stam alongside Alex Ferguson at his unveiling in May 1998. Source: PA

ON 17 JULY, 1972 — 48 years ago today — Jaap Stam was born in the Dutch city of Kampen.

After spells with FC Zwolle, SC Cambuur and Willem II, the defender got his big break by joining PSV Eindhoven in 1996. 

In two season there, he won the Eredivisie title, the KNVB Cup and Dutch Footballer of the Year. 

Those performances prompted Manchester United to shell out £10.6 million — a world record for a defender at the time — to secure his signature. 

And it turned out to be a steal as Stam became a commanding presence at the heart of United’s defence as they won an historic treble in his first season at Old Trafford. 

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Alex Ferguson infamously fell out with Stam due to comments made in his autobiography and sold the centre-half to Lazio in 2001, but later admitted allowing him to leave was a mistake. 

Despite being sidelined for four months after a banned substance was found in his system shortly after arriving in Italy, Stam flourished in Serie A for five years — with Lazio and Milan — before returning to his homeland with Ajax. 

Since retiring in 2007, he has managed Jong Ajax, Reading, PEC Zwolle and Feyenoord. 

Stam, cappped 67 times for the Netherlands, is currently in charge of MLS side FC Cincinnati. 

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