John Heitinga (November 15, 1983) started his football career at SV ARC in his hometown Alphen aan den Rijn. When John was only seven years old, he attracted the attention of his favourite club Ajax Amsterdam. He started to play in the famous Ajax Youth Academy in 1990.
John made his official debut for Ajax on August 21, 2001, in the classic match against Ajax’ biggest rival Feyenoord in Rotterdam. He played 19 games that year. A season later, the defender was injured and he only played one match. After that match, he suffered another injury. With Ronald Koeman as his coach, John made his comeback and became a fans’ favourite.
The right-footed defender was named Talent of the Year 2004 in the Dutch League. In the following years, he turned from talent into one of the key players and in 2008, John won the Dutch Player of the Year Award.
After winning two league titles, three cup titles and four supercups, John moved to Atlético Madrid during the summer of 2008. In his first season, he made 32 appearances and scored three goals for ‘Los Colchoneros’.
De centre-back joined Premier League club Everton in 2009 and made his debut on September 13, against Fulham. He became a first choice in the Everton squad, given his 35 appearances. In contrast to the years before, Heitinga mostly played as a defensive midfielder.
John was voted Everton’s Player of the Year in the 2011-2012 season. The fans loved John’s style of playing, his passion and his commitment for the team. After his period at Everton, John joined Fulham (on loan) and Hertha BSC, before returning to his former club Ajax Amsterdam. The defender played three games and celebrated one goal in the 2015-2016 season.
On February 2016, John decided to retire. Nowadays, he is assistant coach of Ajax’ reserve team. John played 87 matches for the Dutch national team. He was member of the Dutch team at two Euro Cups and two World Cups, including the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, where the Netherlands won a silver medal. The defender was a starting player in every game, including the final against Spain.