Former Manchester United manager admits to a 'bad mistake'…
It is testament to Sir Alex Ferguson's recruitment policy during his 26-year tenure at Manchester United that detractors can only reel off a handful of dubious Old Trafford imports such as Bebe, a £7.4m acquisition from Vitoria de Guimaraes - who only had employed him for five weeks - or Eric Djemba Djemba, bought for £3.5m from Nantes and a player who has since become one of the continent's journeymen.
Ferguson's ability to spot talent was punctuated with the signings of Eric Cantona, Roy Keane, Peter Schmeichel, Cristiano Ronaldo, Denis Irwin and many others. He also was the architect of a number of great sides, perhaps none more so than the 1999 'treble winners' who bragged defensive rock Jaap Stam imposing himself at the back.
Dutchman Stam, now 41, was one of the greatest tough-men of the late 90s. When subbed off after becoming bloodied during a head-on collision, Stam got stitched up in the dugout, with no analgesic. If he were around today, it would likely be he who would be heralded as pushing the Earth out of the sun's orbit whenever he did a push-up, rather than Chuck Norris.
Stam stayed only three seasons at United, but in every campaign he won a Premier League title. He was also a Champions League winner and an FA Cup titlist. An armed guardian of the goal-line, Stam was also one of the country's better readers of game, yet he was sold in 2001 after the unveiling of his autobiography in which he leaked details of Sir Alex tapping him up whilst at PSV Eindhoven.
'Obviously Jaap Stam was always a disappointment to me, I made a bad decision there,' Ferguson conceded recently to MUTV ahead of the highly-anticipated launch of his own autobiography today. 'There are areas you can't ignore. Why we sell certain players, like David Beckham and Ruud Van Nistelrooy These guys were big big figures in Manchester United's history.'
Ferguson sold Stam to Lazio for £15.3m as per a financial report published close to the time. He incidentally returned to the club in 2008, in a scouting position assigned to South American talent. He is currently an assistant coach and defensive trainer at Ajax.
image: © marcel sigg