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Football: My jewel Diamond is new Jaap Stam; Dons boss Jimmy salutes star kid defender Zander.

Byline: By Ian Orr

JIMMY CALDERWOOD reckons Zander Diamond has the Dutch of class to rival his prize pupil Jaap Stam.

The Aberdeen manager groomed Stam for stardom in Holland and a glittering career that has taken the centre-back to PSV Eindhoven, Manchester United, Lazio and AC Milan.

And he is prepared for the day he has to sell his Scotland Under-21 captain because the19-year-oldhas the same qualities that took Stam to the top.

Calderwood predicted a glowing future for his teenage protege after being named Bank of Scotland Manager of the Month with Diamond collecting Young Player of the Month on the eve of their SPL clash with Dundee United at Tannadice.

The Dons boss said: 'It's great to get these awards as they lift the profile of the entire club. It will also give Zander a boost - not that he needs one.

'Everyone now realises the lad is a special player capable of going right to the top of his profession.

'The highest compliment I can payhim is that I see a lot of the same qualities that Jaap Stam possesses.

'It's always dangerous to compare young lads with other players but Zander is the sort who will cope. He has the same winning mentality as Stam.

'Zander is also developing physically whereas Stam is more like a charging rhino when he attacks the ball, so he has quite a bit to go on that front.

'Zander has the same pace which is so vital in the game now and is actually superior in the air. However, the Dutchman is way ahead when it comes to keeping possession of the ball and playing it on the ground.

'But Zander is learning fast all the time and will eventually become as complete a player as Stam is now.'

Calderwood paid a paltrypounds 40,000 to sign Stam for FC Zwolle and took him to Cambuur Leeuwarden and Willem II before selling him to PSV for pounds 1.5million eight years ago. He said: 'It was a great piece of business for us at the time Wherever I moved, Stam was happy to follow as we had an excellent working relationship.

'We are aware that the more successful Diamond becomes, the greater the chances are that a bigger club will come knocking on our door to sign him.

'But that's the way it goes in football. The bonus for Aberdeen is that Billy McNeill is his main adviser.

'Billy knows it's better for the lad to gain more experience here than perhaps move on to England and get stuck on the bench or in a reserve team.

'Stam stuck with smaller clubs for several years to to learn the basics of his trade. He knew the chance to move on would always be there as it will be for Zander.

'Like Stam he will eventually go on to greater things.'

Diamond said: 'I've matured since last season and there is no doubt that the two Jimmys have added a lot to my game.

'I'm aware I'm in the public eye and try to look up to other professionals here.

'We've started the season with great confidence and are working hard for each other.Hopefully there is even better to come.

'Tannadice has been a mixed place for us in recent times but we've shown that we can go and grind out results and get points anywhere.'


DON TO A WINNER: Calderwood and Diamond are all smiles as they show off their Manager of the Month and Young Player of the Month awards at Pittodrie; KEEP IN DUTCH: Stam is; benchmark for Diamond
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Sep 11, 2004
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