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By Paul Higham.   Last Updated: 16/08/01 8:33am

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MANCHESTER UNITED defender Jaap Stam has caused a further stir in his autobiography by claiming that Sir Alex Ferguson encouraged his side to dive in an attempt to earn penalties when playing in Europe.

The Dutchman says that the English players in the squad found it hard to adopt the policy of going to ground easily, but that Ferguson believed that it was fair game on the continent.

"It's got to the stage where he has even told us: 'Don't try and stay on your feet if you're in the box and get a slight kick," Stam revealed in his autobiography being serialised in the Mirror.

"He wants us to copy other sides we face in European competitions and go down to win a penalty.

"Far too often English players seem determined to keep running after getting a whack on the leg, even though the chance to get a shot in has gone.

"I don't think diving has caught on with the English youngsters yet, as their fair-play mentality stops them from taking a tumble.

"Coaches at academy levels are honest and would stamp out that kind of cheating from their team.

Stam says that he does not advocate diving, as he is often penalised as a result of a forward going to ground under one of his challenges.

"I admit to becoming frustrated by the frequency of diving in the Champions League.

"Players from Holland and Scandinavia aren't divers, but those from Spain and Italy go down far too easily for my liking.

"Even players in Germany are used to taking a dive. In all those countries it looks like they have been brought up with it since their schooldays.

"It's tricky for me to take a dive, though. If I fall down under the slightest kick, I'm going to look stupid falling down like I've been shot."


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