Jaap Stam have surprisingly revealed that Manchester United's 1999 Champions League triumph isn't the first thing that comes to mind when he thinks of the competition.
The ex-Red Devils centre-back spoke to FourFourTwo about a number of topics, but the most interesting quotes from Stam come courtesy of his feelings behind his two Champions League final appearances.
Stam was part of United's team that lifted the trophy after a stunning come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Bayern Munich in May 1999, but it was his appearance in the 2005 final for AC Milan that sticks with him more than that earlier triumph.
Milan's clash with United's fierce rivals Liverpool has gone down as one of the best finals in the tournament's history as the Reds came from 3-0 down at half-time to level the scores and then go on to secure the trophy with a nail-biting penalty shoot out win.
It is that devastating loss that Stam admits is the first thing he recalls when asked about the Champions League, and the heartache is still evident in his voice today.
He explained: “When someone mentions a Champions League final, I always think of this before 1999 – the pain of that defeat stays with you for longer.
“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.”
Stam made 127 appearances for United across three seasons and won five trophies along the way. The now-Reading boss completed a remarkable treble in his maiden Old Trafford campaign, and the 45-year-old added that doing so led to plenty of celebrations throughout the summer that followed.
He said: “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.”