Heitinga training with the Netherlands in 2008
|Full name||John Gijsbert Alan Heitinga|
|Date of birth||15 November 1983|
|Place of birth||Alphen aan den Rijn, Netherlands|
|Height||1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)|
|Playing position(s)||Centre back|
|Ajax A1 (U-19 manager)|
|2017–||Ajax A1 (U19)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
A product of the Ajax Youth Academy, he played for their first squad from 2001 to 2008. After a one-year spell at Atlético Madrid in Spain, he signed for Everton in 2009. Joining Fulham for six months in January 2014, he then signed with German side Hertha BSC the following Summer, signing a two-year deal with the club from Berlin. In June 2015 he returned to his first club Ajax.
Since his debut for Dutch national team in February 2004, Heitinga has over 85 caps, and he has represented his country at two World Cups (2006 and 2010) and three European Championships (2004, 2008, and 2012). In 2008, Heitinga was named Dutch Footballer of the Year. He is of mixed Dutch and Indo ancestry.
Heitinga was part of the AFC Ajax youth team before making his debut for the first team on 26 August 2001 against Feyenoord. He was part a new wave of talent that fielded the likes of homegrown stars Rafael van der Vaart and Wesley Sneijder, as well as Zlatan Ibrahimović and Cristian Chivu. He was featured in a documentary entitled Ajax: Hark the Herald Angel Sings alongside Ajax academy pupils Gregory van der Wiel, Mitchell Donald, Jeffrey Sarpong, Donovan Slijngard, Nordin Amrabat, Evander Sno, and Jeremain Lens.
Heitinga quickly established himself as a strong addition to the team and became first-choice player under coach Co Adriaanse and later Ronald Koeman until he suffered a serious knee injury which kept him on the sidelines for over six months. His comeback was short-lived, as he played only one game before suffering yet another injury which again sentenced him to a long period of recovery.
He made his second comeback at the start of the 2003–04 season and impressed in his first game since injury against FC Volendam, from where he went on to become a first choice central defender for the remainder of the season as well as a popular figure amongst the fans. When it was announced that he would be leaving Ajax at the end of the 2007–08 season, the fans gave him a fitting send-off by displaying a mosaic of him on the stands.
Heitinga moved to Atlético Madrid at the end of the 2007–08 season for a fee of £8.8 million. His first season in Spain ended with Heitinga making 32 appearances — 27 in La Liga — and scoring three goals for Atlético.
In September 2009, aged 25, Heitinga joined English Premier League club Everton on a five-year contract for a fee of around €7.04 million (£6.2 million). He was given squad number 5, though he was not eligible to represent Everton in the UEFA Europa League, having already played for Atlético Madrid in the qualifying stage of the Champions League. Heitinga made his debut for Everton on 13 September against Fulham after coming on for the injured Phil Neville. In his first season for the club, Heitinga made 35 appearances in all competitions. He played mostly as defensive midfielder, covering the absence of several players and showing great spirit and adaptability.
In the 2010–11 FA Cup, Everton held holders Chelsea 1–1 in a replay at Stamford Bridge, sending the tie to penalties. Heitinga took Everton's fourth and scored. Phil Neville went on to score the winning penalty for Everton. Later that season, Heitinga scored his first goal for the club in a 1–1 draw at home to Birmingham City. Heitinga was voted Everton's Player of the Season for 2011–12 by the club's supporters. He finally had an extended run of play as centre back, showing the passion and the commanding skills he always put on the field in the orange shirt. He then scored against Newcastle on the final day of the season with an unmarked header which put Everton 3–0, his second Premier League goal and his first in over 14 months.
The 2012–13 season proved to be less successful for Heitinga as manager David Moyes opted to play Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin for much of Everton's season. Heitinga had to wait until an injury to Jagielka gave him a sustained run in the team but poor performances which included him being culpable for all three goals in a 3–3 draw with Aston Villa led to him being criticised by fans. However, in April Moyes praised Heitinga's mental strength for battling back after his earlier form in the season would have "broken" most players. Despite this, Heitinga revealed that he had rejected Everton's offer of a new contract at the end of the year. In January 2014 Everton and West Ham United agreed terms for the transfer of Heitinga. He turned down the move however saying, "You have to be convinced that you are taking the right step and I was not". He scored his last goal for the team in his last outing, Everton's 4–0 FA Cup win against Stevenage before eventually joining Fulham on a free transfer on transfer deadline day.
On 31 January 2014, Heitinga signed for Fulham for a six-month deal on a free transfer. In a 3–1 loss against Chelsea on 1 March, Heitinga scored the only goal for Fulham. On 23 May 2014 he was released from the club at the end of his contract.
Return to Ajax
On 25 June 2015, Ajax announced that Heitinga would return to the club, joining on a free transfer from German side Hertha BSC. He signed a one-year contract with the option of a second year. However, after playing only two Eredivisie matches in the first half of the season, Heitinga decided to retire from professional football on 1 February 2016.
Having been part of Dutch international youth teams, Heitinga made his senior debut for the Netherlands on 18 February 2004 in a friendly game against the United States and made an immediate impact. Several months later, he scored his first goal from a Rafael van der Vaart free kick in a friendly against Greece.
Although he did not take part in qualifying, Heitinga was later included in the squad for the Euro 2004 in Portugal since the Dutch under-21 team had failed to qualify for the European Championships. He started as first choice right back in the first two group stage matches but was suspended for the last match when he was sent-off for two bookable offences. After serving his suspension, he returned in the quarter-final against Sweden as a second-half substitute for Edgar Davids and converted his penalty as the Dutch won 5–4 on penalties. The Dutch, however, were eliminated by the hosts Portugal in the semi-finals.
2006 World Cup
Heitinga's development as a player suffered two dips in form in the 2004–05 and the 2005–06 seasons, respectively. Despite club struggles, Heitinga never lost his spot in the national team under Marco van Basten, who took over as Dutch national coach in the summer of 2004. By the end of 2005, had also once again become a key player in the Ajax squad. He would also be selected by Van Basten for the Dutch team of 23 players to compete in the 2006 FIFA World Cup, hosted by Germany. The Dutch side performed reasonably well at the World Cup, qualifying for the second round before again being knocked out by Portugal.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (August 2011)
Heitinga was also called up to the Dutch squad for Euro 2008 in Austria and Switzerland. Since Euro 2008, he has been a regular in the right back position and has occasionally deputised in other defensive positions during an injury crisis. He made his 50th appearance for the Netherlands in a friendly against Paraguay on 18 November 2009.
2010 World Cup
Heitinga was included in the squad for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, and was in the starting line-up for the Netherlands' first match in the competition, a 2–0 victory over Denmark. Heitinga played in every game as the Netherlands reached the final for the third time, where they faced Spain. He started the match but was sent off in the 109th minute after being given his second yellow card for a foul on Andrés Iniesta. He became the fifth player to be sent off in a World Cup final.[nb 1] The Netherlands went on to lose the final 1–0 after Iniesta scored the winning goal for Spain in the 116th minute.
|Atlético Madrid||2008–09||La Liga||27||3||1||0||6||0||—||34||3|
|Last updated: 4 August 2015|
|Netherlands national team|
Statistics accurate as of match played 11 June 2013.
|1||28 April 2004||Philips Stadion, Eindhoven, Netherlands||Greece||3–0||4–0||Friendly match|
|2||1 June 2006||Philips Stadion, Eindhoven, Netherlands||Mexico||1–1||2–1||Friendly match|
|3||6 June 2007||Rajamangala Stadium, Bangkok, Thailand||Thailand||0–2||1–3||Friendly match|
|4||6 February 2008||Poljud Stadium, Split, Croatia||Croatia||0–1||0–3||Friendly match|
|5||26 March 2008||Ernst-Happel-Stadion, Vienna, Austria||Austria||3–2||3–4||Friendly match|
|6||10 September 2008||Skopje City Stadium, Skopje, Macedonia||North Macedonia||0–1||1–2||2010 FIFA World Cup qualification|
|7||2 September 2011||Philips Stadion, Eindhoven, Netherlands||San Marino||3–0||11–0||Euro 2012 qualification|
- Eredivisie: 2001–02, 2003–04
- KNVB Cup : 2001–02, 2005–06, 2006–07
- Johan Cruyff Shield: 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007
- Amsterdam Sportsman of the Year: 2001
- Ajax Talent of the Future: 2000–01
- Dutch Football Talent of the Year: 2003–04
- Dutch Footballer of the Year: 2007–08
- Everton Player of the Season: 2011–12
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- Fulham 2–1 Everton BBC Sport, 13 September 2009.
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- Kerry Wilkinson (1 March 2014). "Fulham 1-3 Chelsea". BBC Sport. Retrieved 24 May 2014.
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- "Heitinga rond met Hertha". 4 June 2014. Retrieved 4 June 2014.
- "Defender John Heitinga returns to old club Ajax with one-year deal". Sky Sports. 25 June 2015. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
- "Heitinga stopt strijd bij Ajax en hangt kicksen aan de wilgen" [Heitinga stops fighting with Ajax and hangs wet grass on the willows] (in Dutch). Voetbal International. 1 February 2016. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
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- Fletcher, Paul (11 July 2010). "Netherlands 0–1 Spain (aet)". BBC Sport. Retrieved 12 July 2010.
- "John Heitinga » Club matches". World Football. Retrieved 1 February 2016.
- "Football: Johnny Heitinga". footballdatabase.eu. Retrieved 9 April 2012.
- "John Heitinga". National Football Teams. Benjamin Strack-Zimmerman. Retrieved 9 April 2012.
- "Gespeelde wedstrijden" (in Dutch). KNVB. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 16 May 2007.
- "My Story". Heitinga Official Website. Archived from the original on 19 May 2008. Retrieved 8 August 2019.
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- "Proud Heitinga Is Best Player". Everton F.C. 10 May 2012. Archived from the original on 12 May 2012. Retrieved 14 May 2012.
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