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John Heitinga


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John Gijsbert Alan Heitinga was born on 15 November 1983 in Alphen aan de Rijn, close to the city of Leiden. He started playing football at his local club, ARC, from a very young age. For his seventh birthday his mother treated him to a coaching course at Ajax, which led to him being invited to join their famous youth academy.

Having started life as a right-back, and occasionally pushing up into a defensive midfield role, John has latterly developed as an attack-minded central defender, who scores more than his share of goals.

John went on to represent Holland at every level, playing at the European Championship for Under-16’s and captaining the Dutch Under-20’s team that went to the World Cup in Argentina in 2000.

17 years and 284 days

He made his league debut for the Ajax first team on 26 August 2001, at the age of just 17 years and 284 days, in the ‘classic’ against Feyenoord at the De Kuip stadium in Rotterdam. A 2-1 victory kick-started a season that ended with Ajax claiming a league and cup ‘double’ in John’s maiden season.

An injury half way through the 2001/02 season sidelined him for the rest of the campaign, and he also missed much of the 2002/03 season. However, after his comeback the club stormed to another title in 2004. By then he had won his first cap in the national team, starting as a right-back in a friendly against the USA in his own backyard, the Amsterdam Arena.

First international goal

John scored his first international goal only two months later in a friendly against Greece. At Euro 2004 he was in Holland’s starting line-up for the first two games, but was sent off with two yellow cards against the Czech Republic. He played in the quarterfinal against Sweden as the Dutch progressed to the semi-finals.

At the 2006 World Cup, John played the first two games, before being rested for the third against Argentina. In the second round match against Portugal he started on the bench, and his appearance as a substitute came too late to prevent the team from defeat.


John added two further Dutch Cup winner’s medals to his trophy cabinet - in 2006 and 2007. 2007/2008 being his seventh season in the first team, John was the longest serving player in the Ajax squad at the time.

He firmly established himself as the bedrock at the heart of the defence, while retaining his attacking inclinations, as underlined by the fact that he had already bagged four league goals by the midway point of the 2007/08 season. John Heitinga was elected Player of the Year 2008 in the Netherlands.

Offer from Atletico Madrid

In 2007, John agreed a contract extension with Ajax until 2011. However, in March 2008, the Amsterdam club accepted an offer from Spanish giants Atletico Madrid.

He moved to Atlético Madrid at the end of the 2007/2008 season for a fee of £8.8 million. His first season in Spain ended with Heitinga making 32 appearances (27 in the league), and scoring 3 goals for Atlético.

Premier League at Everton

On 30 August 2009, Atlético Madrid accepted a bid from Everton valued at around £6.2 million for the services of Heitinga. On 1 September 2009 Heitinga signed a five-year deal with Everton and he was given Joleon Lescott's old shirt number 5. Heitinga will not be eligible to represent Everton in the Europa League (formally UEFA Cup) in the 2009/10 season as he has already played for Atletico Madrid in the qualifying stage of the Champions League.



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