Six years after selling Jaap Stam to Lazio, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has admitted that letting his star defender go was a 'mistake'.
The Dutch centre-back was a key player for the Red Devils between 1998 and 2001, helping Ferguson's side to three successive Premier League trophies and the European Cup.
However, in a move which many feel was one of only a few mistakes in the manager's Old Trafford career, Stam was sold to Lazio in the summer of 2001 for £16.5million, a price tag Ferguson said was too good to refuse.
In the six seasons since his departure, Manchester United have spent over £50million on defenders and have won the Premier League only twice.
Ferguson now confesses that selling Stam was an error.
The Scot was giving a talk at the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow this week and said that the sale of Stam was a mistake 'in football terms'.
He went on to justify his decision to sell the defender. "At the time he had just come back from an Achilles injury and we thought he had just lost a bit," he said.
"We got the offer from Lazio - £16.5 million for a centre-back that was 29. It was an offer I couldn't refuse."
During his time at Old Trafford, Stam was voted the best defender in the Champions League in both 1999 and 2000.
And in 2005 he played in the Champions League final once more, this time for Milan after his move from Lazio the previous year.
Stam has since moved to Ajax and become the Dutch side's club captain. And Ferguson recognises he could still be doing a job for United.
"In playing terms it (selling him) was a mistake. He is still playing for Ajax at a really good level."