Jaap Stam has ended his football career immediately. The 35-year old captain of Ajax announced his decision Monday during a press conference in the Amsterdam ArenA. Stam had been an Ajax player since the start of last season.
,,This decision was not taken overnight”, Stam said in the packed press room of the Amsterdam ArenA. ,,A while ago, I told Martin van Geel and Maarten Fontein that I could no longer motivate myself enough. Physically, I was no longer a hundred percent. During matches, I was more busy with myself than with the opponent. That's not right. Especially for someone who relies on his strength. I want to give myself for the full hundred percent and not sixty or seventy. I did begin the new season because I hoped things would get better. But after a few weeks I realized that that was the wrong decision.”
Stam, who is also going through a difficult period due to family circumstances, hopes to be left alone in the time to come. ,,I do not know what I will do in the future”, the man from Kampen said. ,,I am a real football aficionado, so I cannot rule out a return in football. But for now, I just want to get some peace and quiet.”
Technical director Martin van Geel spoke with praise about the strong defender. ,,With Jaap, we acquired absolute quality one and a half years ago. Not only because of his football ability, but also because of his mentality." Van Geel illustrated his words with an example. ,,Right away, when Jaap started at Ajax, he did situps after each training. Within a few weeks, the whole squad followed his example. That shows exactly what kind of influence he had on the team. We are proud that Jaap has played for us and we are very sad to see him go.”
Although he retires earlier than he had planned, Stam looks back on his time in Amsterdam with pride. ,,Ajax is the best club in Holland. I am grateful to the club and to Martin van Geel that they got me back to Holland a year and a half ago. I also want to thank the supporters. They made me feel right at home in the ArenA.”
After the press conference, Stam received a standing ovation from the Dutch journalists in attendance. That says a lot, if not everything about the defender.