Jaap Stam talks about his departure from Man United in 2001

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There were more than a few eyebrows raised when Sir Alex Ferguson opted to sell Jaap Stam from Manchester United in 2001.

The centre-half had only been at Old Trafford for three seasons - winning the Premier League at each attempt - before he was surprisingly sold to Serie A side, Lazio for £15 million.

Ferguson thought that he had seen signs that Stam was beginning to decline but it proved to be a rare poor judgement call from the Scot.

Stam went on to play for another five years at the top level in Italian football and Man United's former legendary boss has previously admitted it was a bad decision to let him go prematurely.

The 44-year-old Dutchman is now charge of Championship club Reading and will return to Old Trafford in next weekend's FA Cup Third round clash between the two sides.

Ahead of the tie, Stam has been reflecting on his departure from United just under 16 years ago and feels that he should have stayed with the Red Devils.

"Well, of course it was a mistake," Stam told the Daily Mail.

"I'm not going to deny that. I knew myself how I felt as a player at the time.

Jaap Stam

"And at that time you're not happy with it. But you know as well when you go into management that sometimes you have to make certain decisions."

Ferguson infamously told Stam of his intention to sell the defender in the forecourt of a petrol station and the pair have never spoken about the fallout since.

Stam added: "It happened and you have to go on with your life and you try to succeed somewhere else.

Ipswich v Man Utd

"He had the confidence in me to take me over and let me play and I've learned from him as a manager as well now. I'd have loved to spend a couple of years extra over there, but that's how it was."

Stam will be hoping he can get some revenge on his former side by dumping Jose Mourinho's men out of the FA Cup.

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