Ex-Manchester United defender Jaap Stam is targeting a permanent return to English football for the first time in 14 years in a management role. The 43-year-old left Old Trafford in 2001 after Sir Alex Ferguson supposedly became disgruntled with controversial comments Stam made in his autobiography Head to Head, and the club received a good offer from Lazio around the same time that they had already decided to sign World Cup winner Laurent Blanc.
Having retired from playing six years later following further stints with AC Milan and Ajax, the former Dutch international has done scouting work for United as well as serving as an assistant at Eredivisie outfit PEC Zwolle. Stam is currently cutting his managerial teeth under Frank de Boer in his role as reserve team boss at the Amsterdam Arena, although he appears to have had his passion for the Premier League reignited by a recent visit to compatriot Ronald Koeman.
"Coming back to England and seeing Ronald at Southampton has really opened my heart again," the 43-year-old, a notoriously tough centre-back during his illustrious career that included four top-flight titles in two countries as well as that historic treble at Old Trafford in 1998/99, told The Mirror. "It was wonderful to be back in England – all my fantastic memories came flooding back to me.
"Football in England is booming. The Premier League is the best league in the world and the facilities for coaches and managers are fantastic. I remember playing at The Dell when we travelled to Southampton. Now they have a brand new stadium. I also saw their training complex, and it is out of this world."
Stam further revealed that he has already received interest from clubs in the UK, although failed to elaborate further on the identities of those teams who may be scouring the continent for fresh managerial impetus. He added: "As soon as I get the opportunity to work in England, I will go for it. There has been some interest already, but that's all I can say. Of course, I still have to prove myself at the top level. Not every great player becomes a great coach."
There are currently three Dutch managers plying their trade in the Premier League, with Koeman joined by old rival Louis van Gaal and struggling Sunderland's Dick Advocaat. Former Chelsea and Newcastle manager Ruud Gullit, Guus Hiddink (Chelsea), Martin Jol (Tottenham and Fulham) and Rene Meulensteen (Fulham) have also taken charge of teams at the top level of English football.