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Football: Oh dear Giggsy, let's hope Fergie doesn't see this..; RYAN NAMES STAM IN HIS TEAM OF THE YEAR.

Byline: Darren LEWIS

RYAN GIGGS has named Manchester United outcast Jaap Stam in his Team of the Year - even though Sir Alex Ferguson sold the Dutchman for being 'past it'.

Giggs also included Arsenal ace Thierry Henry in his side along with Real Madrid's Luis Figo but there was no place for David Beckham.

Ferguson flogged Stam to Serie A giants Lazio two years ago after the centre-back revealed key dressing-room secrets in his explosive autobiography, serialised by The Daily Mirror.

Back then Sir Alex claimed the book had nothing to do with his decision. But Stam has become a star in Italy.

Giggs said: "My old United team-mate is still one of the best in the business. Lazio aren't quite as strong as they were a few years ago but in Jaap they have a superb defender."

The Welsh wing wizard has also clashed with Fergie over the inclusion of Chelsea superstar Claude Makelele.

Signed from Real Madrid for pounds 16.6million, the midfielder has earned rave reviews this season. He was also among the pick of the Madrid players that dumped United out of the Champions League last season. But Sir Alex recently insisted the Congo-born hard-man was over the hill.

The Scot said: "Makelele is never going to hurt you. Real Madrid let him go and they are not daft." But Giggs gushed: "I don't think there is a better holding midfield player in the world."

Giggs qualified his selections by refusing to name any current colleagues in the side.

Former team-mate Becks lost out to World Player of the Year Zinedine Zidane in central midfield and to Figo on the right. Giggs said: "Figo is a very classy footballer who is capable of producing moments of magic at will.

"He's had another great year in Spain and will be looking forward to Euro 2004 on Portuguese soil.

"I've resisted the temptation to name any of my Manchester United colleagues in my UEFA Team of the Year, but I still believe every player involved deserves his place.

"This team would be almost impossible to beat I reckon. Except against United of course!" Despite the intense rivalry between United and Arsenal, Giggs was gracious in his praise of Henry.

He said: "What a great player Henry has turned out to be for Arsenal.

"He is their main man and seems to either create or score almost all of their goals. He has so much talent it's scary. Pace, power, skill, he has it all."

CAPTION(S):

AGE; OUT OF SYNC: Giggs and Fergie; ZANETTI; ROBERTO CARLOS; BUFFON; NEDVED; RONALDO; HENRY; MALDINI; MAKELELE; ZIDANE; FIGO; LIPPI; PICKING A FIGHT: Selecting Stam (above) could be a bad move for Giggs in Fergie's eyes
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 18, 2003
Words:453
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