Stam: Newcastle contacted me about replacing Benitez in March

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Jaap Stam has claimed Newcastle United approached him about replacing Rafael Benitez as manager three months before the Spaniard's contract expired.

Benitez officially left Newcastle at the end of June after failing to agree an extension for the new season.

Steve Bruce stepped into the role the following month but the Magpies were canvassing options for a new boss as early as March, according to former Manchester United defender Stam.

The Dutchman, who managed Reading for close to two seasons, could not enter into talks as he had already committed to Eredivisie side Feyenoord, who announced his appointment on March 6.

"Newcastle United called me a few days after I signed my contract at Feyenoord," Stam told Voetbal International.

"So it wasn't an option straight away. I'm a man of my word.

"It was beautiful and honourable, because people in England apparently know what I stand for as a trainer."

Stam's contract at Feyenoord took effect on June 1.

His team have won three of 10 games in the Eredivisie this term, while Newcastle are 18th in the Premier League after nine matches under Bruce.