In 1999, Stam played a pivotal role at the heart of Manchester United’s defence, in what turned out to be the most dramatic of conclusions to a Champions League final.
Fast-forward six years and Stam was once again involved in the Champions League final – this time, on the wrong end of an incredible comeback as Liverpool came from 3-0 down to beat Milan on penalties.
And, like so many players for whom losing was torturous, the Dutchman always remembers the anguish of Istanbul before the elation of Barcelona.
“When someone mentions a Champions League final, I always think of this before 1999 – the pain of that defeat stays with you for longer,” said Stam, speaking exclusively to FourFourTwo.
“When the first Liverpool goal went in, we lost all our organisation and focus. When it got to penalties, we were down; they were lifted. But forget the rumours we celebrated at half-time: we had too much experience to do that.”
Alongside Ronny Johnsen in central defence, Stam helped Manchester United clinch the Treble in 1999 as two injury-time goals saw them overcome Bayern Munich in the Camp Nou and complete a remarkable first year at the club for Stam.
“I couldn’t have wished for a better first season in England; winning the Premier League, the FA Cup and then the climax to it all.
“I remember looking at the Camp Nou clock as the minutes counted down. It looked bad but Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scored in the best two minutes of my whole career. We had a brilliant party that night to celebrate.”