Jaap Stam has set his sights on Premier League football with Reading, admitting that he intends to test himself as a manager at the top level of the game.
The Dutchman was brought to the Berkshire club last summer following a seven-year spell working in various backroom roles, including in an assistant capacity at PEC Zwolle and Ajax's Under-21s side.
Stam admits that both he and Reading took a risk when agreeing a three-year contract in June 2016, but he has guided the Royals to the brink of a top-flight return as they look ahead to Monday afternoon's playoff final meeting with Huddersfield Town.
"It's always up to the clubs over whether they take that risk to employ someone from abroad, a young manager as well, you just need to get that chance," The Guardian quotes him as saying. "Everyone needs that and I needed to make a decision whether I wanted that. It is not only other people [who had to make a decision] but myself as well. Do I want that? Is it good for myself?
"I have a reputation and name myself, everyone knows that. But I believe in myself as well. Even the other managers are at risk if you go somewhere and think what will happen if it doesn't work out. What then? Will it ruin my name? You need to go in, work hard and believe in yourself, that's what's happened this season."
"I want to go to the top – I've played at the top – and as a manager I want to go to the top, hopefully with Reading. It is important for me to believe in a team that has ambition. I want to go up and work towards something. I don't want to work in the grey areas and say it is nice to end up 10th or 11th and keep on doing that every year. I want to reach something with a team and go to the highest level."
Stam, linked heavily with the West Ham United job earlier this year, recently claimed that he will remain at the Madejski Stadium next season regardless of Monday's result.