The Dutchman balanced no-nonsense defending with the intelligence and ball-playing ability of a modern-day centre back.
In 1998, United made Stam the most expensive defender in world football when they signed him from PSV for £10.6 million.
In three seasons at Old Trafford, Stam helped the Red Devils win three Premier League titles, an FA Cup and the Champions League.
His departure from the club may have been unceremonious after a falling out with Sir Alex Ferguson but nobody can deny just how incredible he was during those three campaigns.
He played a crucial role in United becoming champions of Europe in 1999 – that unforgettable and dramatic comeback win against Bayern Munich in the final.
As a result, 20 years after that victory at the Camp Nou he represented Man Utd legends against their German opponents in a charity match at Old Trafford.
The match raised money for Man United’s foundation – a great cause I think we can all agree.
But friendly isn’t a word in Stam’s dictionary.
He played that match as if it was the Champions League final itself.
Stam was ruthless throughout the match, smashing into tackles for fun.
One tackle, in particular, on Ivica Olic was pretty brutal!
He also three Bayern players in three seconds midway through the second half.
Check out his highlights from the game below:
VIDEO: Jaap Stam went rogue vs Bayern Munich in charity match
United won the match 5-0, with Stam ensuring his side kept a clean sheet
Today (Sunday 17, July) Stam turns 50.
And what better way to celebrate his half-century by remembering him going rogue in a charity match.
They don’t make defenders like him anymore.
Many happy returns, Jaap.
Why Stam left Manchester United
Stam claimed in his book ‘Head-to-Head’ that Fergie had ‘tapped him up’ while he was at PSV – something that didn’t go down well with his manager at all. It led to a swift and ugly departure from the club.
“The book got serialised in the week of an England-Holland friendly,” he told FourFourTwo magazine.
“Initially, Ferguson had told me not to worry about it, but on Wednesday – the morning of the match – I was informed that I should report for talks with him the next day, because he wasn’t happy about some of it.
“After the game, I went home and reported the next morning at 8am, because I was keen to resolve the matter. I said, “You know what’s in the book – nothing bad.” But he maintained that he wasn’t happy.
“A week later, I was left out for a game against Blackburn. On the day, he called me to say I wasn’t in his squad because of the book hassle.
“We lived in the same area, and he told me to wait for him so that we could have a chat. I pulled into a petrol station near a shopping centre and he met me there.
“When he arrived, he got in my car and told me that the club had accepted an offer from Lazio. He said that he wanted to continue with two other defenders, Wes Brown and Laurent Blanc, which meant I’d be on the bench.
“I felt I’d be able to regain my place eventually, but in that short amount of time, our relationship was impacted in such a way that I felt as though I wanted to leave. I think he anticipated it. Within 24 hours, I’d gone to Rome and joined Lazio.”