Top facts about John Heitinga, Everton legend

Thu 20 January 2022 | 20:29

John Heitinga retired very early from playing football, but he managed to establish himself as one of the best defenders in the history of Everton and Dutch football. Read on to find out more facts about John Heitinga, the Holland international.

Gijsbert, John Alan Heitinga

(born November 15, 1983) is a Dutch football coach and former center defender. He is presently the manager of Jong Ajax, AFC Ajax's reserve squad.

John Heitinga’s age

is 38. Here you can find out the most important facts about John Heitinga, the former



From 2001 until 2008, he was a member of the Ajax Youth Academy's first team. He joined Everton in 2009 after a one-year loan stint with Atlético Madrid in Spain.

After joining Fulham for six months in January 2014, he moved to Hertha BSC in Germany the following summer, signing a two-year contract with the club. He returned to his original club, Ajax, in June 2015.

The first fact about John Heitinga is that he has over 85 caps for the Dutch national team since his debut in February 2004, and he has played in two World Cups (2006 and 2010) and three European Championships (2004, 2008, and 2012). Heitinga was selected the Dutch Footballer of the Year in 2008. He has a Dutch and Indo heritage mix.

On November 11, 1999, John Heitinga made his debut for the Dutch national under-16 team in a friendly against France –16 (3-1 loss).

On March 29, 2000, Heitinga made his debut for the Dutch national under-17 team in a friendly against Belgium –17 (1-1). John Heitinga was part of the selection that would participate in the 2000-1 European Championship in Israel.

In the quarterfinals against Russia-17, John Heitinga scored the 2-0 for the Netherlands-17 in the 3-0 win, marking his first goal for the Netherlands-17.

Heitinga also scored in the semi-final match that was lost 1-2 to the Czech Republic –17. Heitinga finished third in the tournament with the Netherlands –17 and played a total of five games at the European Championship in Israel.

An important fact about John Heitinga is that he made his debut in the Dutch national team on February 18, 2004 against the United States. On April 28, 2004, he made it 3-0 in a 4-0 win against



In preparation for the 2006 World Cup (Germany), Heitinga scored the 1-1 in the 53rd minute in the Netherlands-Mexico friendly match (1 June 2006). On June 6, 2007, Heitinga made 0-2 against


. In the 2010 World Cup final (0-1 loss), Heitinga was sent off with two yellow cards.

Top facts about John Heitinga:

As a player, Heitinga played for


for over seven seasons, after which he played consecutively for Atlético Madrid, Everton, Fulham, Hertha BSC and again Ajax. In addition, he played 87 international matches for the Netherlands national football team.

John Heitinga early life


John Heitinga’s childhood

, it should be mentioned that he was born in the Alphen aan den Rijn, South Holland, Netherlands in 1983.

Heitinga made his professional debut for Ajax against Feyenoord on August 26, 2001. Ajax won the match by a score of 2-1. Heitinga scored his first goal against ADO Den Haag on November 9, 2003.

He got sent off with a red card in this game. Unfortunately there is no information regarding

John Heitinga’s parents


John Heitinga personal life

Since 2004, Heitinga has been dating Charlotte-Sophie Zenden, the sister of footballer Boudewijn Zenden. On May 18, 2010, the pair married in a garden in Maastricht, according to Dutch law. In the 14th, 15th, and 16th of July 2010, Heitinga and Zenden married on the Spanish island of Ibiza for three days.

Johnny and his wife have three children together. Their first daughter, Jezebel, was born in 2009, and their boy, Lennox, was born in July 2011. In August of this year, his wife gave birth to their second child, Rixo.

John Heitinga professional career

Heitinga made his professional debut for Ajax on August 26, 2001, against


. Ajax won 2-1. On 9 November 2003, Heitinga scored his first goal, away against ADO Den Haag. He equalized in a 1-4 win. In this match he also had to leave the field with a red card.

The defender arrived from Atletico Madrid for an initial fee of £6m which could rise to £7m. He signed a five-year contract. Dutch international John Heitinga was Everton's fourth signing of the summer in 2009.

Having been represented Dutch international youth teams, John made his senior debut on 18th February 2004 for


in a friendly game against the United States and made an immediate impact.

Heitinga retired from playing in 2016 at just 33-years of age after a brief spell playing back in Holland with Ajax. After that, he became the assistant coach to Marcel Keizer at Jong Ajax in 2016-2017.

John Heitinga club career

An important fact about John Heitinga is that he was a member of the AFC Ajax junior squad before making his first-team debut against Feyenoord on August 26, 2001.


He was part of a new generation of players that included domestic talents Rafael van der Vaart and Wesley Sneijder, as well as

Zlatan Ibrahimovi

and Cristian Chivu. In the documentary Ajax: Hark the Herald, he was featured.

Angel performs with Gregory van der Wiel, Mitchell Donald, Jeffrey Sarpong, Donovan Slijngard, Nordin Amrabat, Evander Sno, and Jeremain Lens from the Ajax academy.

Heitinga soon established himself as a valuable member of the squad, rising to first-choice status under coach Co Adriaanse and then Ronald Koeman, until he was sidelined for nearly six months due to a catastrophic knee injury.

His comeback was short-lived, as he only played one game before suffering yet another injury, forcing him to return to the sidelines for another lengthy recuperation spell.

He made his second return at the start of the 2003–04 season, impressing in his first game back after an injury against FC Volendam, and went on to become the team's first choice center defense for the rest of the season, as well as a fan favorite.

When it was revealed that he would be departing Ajax at the conclusion of the 2007–08 season, supporters gave him a suitable send-off by putting up a mosaic of him in the stands.

Atlético Madrid

A notable

fact about John Heitinga

is that he joined Atlético Madrid for £8.8 million at the conclusion of the 2007–08 season. Heitinga made 32 appearances for

Atlético Madrid

in his debut season in Spain, including 27 in La Liga, and scored three goals.


Heitinga joined English Premier League team Everton on a five-year deal in September 2009, when he was 25 years old, for a cost of about €7.04 million (£6.2 million).

He was allocated squad number 5, despite the fact that he was ineligible to play for Everton in the UEFA Europa League since he had previously played for Atlético Madrid in the Champions League qualification round. Heitinga made his Everton debut against Fulham on September 13th, replacing the injured Phil Neville.

A notable fact about John Heitinga is that he made 35 appearances in all competitions in his debut season with the club. He usually played as a defensive midfielder, filling in for various players who were injured and displaying excellent enthusiasm and versatility.

Everton defeated holders Chelsea 1–1 in a replay at Stamford Bridge in the 2010–11 FA Cup, sending the game to penalties. Everton's fourth goal was scored by Heitinga. Everton's winning penalty was scored by

Phil Neville

. Heitinga scored his first goal for the club in a 1–1 draw against Birmingham City at home later that season.

Everton fans chose Heitinga as their Player of the Season in 2011–12. He eventually got some playing time as a centre defender, displaying the same intensity and dominating qualities he shown on the pitch with the orange jersey.

On the last day of the season, he scored an unmarked header against Newcastle to put Everton 3–0 up, his second Premier League goal and his first in almost 14 months.

Heitinga's 2012–13 season was less successful, as Everton manager

David Moyes

decided to play Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin for the most of the season.

An important

fact about John Heitinga

is that he had to wait until Jagielka's injury allowed him a prolonged run in the squad, but bad performances, including being responsible for all three goals in a 3–3 draw with

Aston Villa

, led to fan criticism.

In April, though, Moyes hailed Heitinga's mental toughness for fighting back after his early-season form would have "broken" most players. Despite this, Heitinga confirmed that he had turned down a new contract offer from Everton at the conclusion of the season.

Everton and West Ham United agreed on terms for Heitinga's move in January 2014. "You have to be sure that you are taking the proper step, and I was not," he said, declining the offer.

He scored his last goal for the club in Everton's 4–0 FA Cup victory against Stevenage before joining Fulham on a free transfer on transfer deadline day.


A notable fact about John Heitinga is that he signed a six-month free transfer agreement with Fulham on January 31, 2014. Heitinga scored the sole goal for Fulham in a 3–1 defeat against Chelsea on March 1. He was dismissed by the club on May 23, 2014, after his contract expired.

BSC Hertha

In June 2014, Heitinga signed a two-year deal with Hertha BSC in Germany.

Return to Ajax

Ajax confirmed on June 25, 2015, that Heitinga will return to the club on a free transfer from Hertha BSC in Germany.

He agreed to a one-year deal with the option to extend it for another year. Heitinga, however, chose to retire from professional football on February 1, 2016, after just playing two Eredivisie matches in the first half of the season.

John Heitinga international career

An important fact about John Heitinga is that he made his senior debut for the Netherlands on February 18, 2004, in a friendly against the United States, after being a member of the Dutch international junior teams. He made an instant impression. He scored his first goal in a friendly against Greece a few months later, thanks to a Rafael van der Vaart free kick.

Heitinga was eventually named in the roster for the Euro 2004 in Portugal, despite not participating in qualification. The Dutch under-21 team had failed to qualify for the European Championships.

He began the first two group stage matches as the starting right back, but was suspended for the final match after being sent off for two bookable offences.

After serving his sentence, he came in as a second-half replacement for

Edgar Davids

in the quarter-final against Sweden, converting his penalty as the Dutch triumphed 5–4 on penalties. The Dutch, on the other hand, were ousted in the semi-finals by hosts Portugal.

In the 2004–05 and 2005–06 seasons, Heitinga's growth as a player took a turn for the worst. Under Marco van Basten, who took over as Dutch national coach in the summer of 2004, Heitinga never lost his place in the national squad, despite his club troubles.

By the end of 2005, he had also re-established himself as a major member of the Ajax team. Van Basten would also choose him for the Dutch squad of 23 players who would participate in the 2006 FIFA World Cup, which would be hosted by Germany. The Dutch team fared well in the World Cup, qualifying for the second round before being eliminated by Portugal once more.

Heitinga was also selected for the Dutch team for Euro 2008, which will be held in Austria and Switzerland. He has been a regular right back since Euro 2008, and he has sometimes deputized in other defensive positions during injury crises. On November 18, 2009, he made his 50th appearance for the Netherlands in a friendly against Paraguay.

A notable fact about John Heitinga is that he was included to the Netherlands' squad for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, and started the team's opening match, a 2–0 win against Denmark.

Heitinga appeared in every game as the Netherlands advanced to their third consecutive World Cup final, when they met Spain. He began the game but was sent off after receiving his second yellow card for a foul on Andrés Iniesta in the 109th minute.

He became the sixth player in World Cup final history to be sent off. After Iniesta scored the winning goal for Spain in the 116th minute, the Netherlands went on to lose the final 1–0.

John Heitinga coaching career

After his career as a player, he became an assistant at Jong Ajax. From 2017 to 2020 he was head coach of Ajax under 19 and in the 2020/21 season of under 18.

In May 2021, Heitinga was appointed as head coach of Young Ajax and succeeded Mitchell van der Gaag, who was appointed to Ajax's first team as assistant coach under head coach Erik ten Hag.

John Heitinga Everton legacy

John Heitinga arrived at Everton in another last-minute transfer deadline saga, as the Dutchman took his time deciding whether or not to make the move from Spain to Merseyside.

Though a price of about £6 million was negotiated with the Spanish club three days before the transfer window closed in August 2009, personal terms (reportedly the highest pay of any Everton player at the time) were not finalized until a few hours before the deadline.

Fans could have assumed that the Blues had overpaid for a guy who had a 0/10 rating for his last appearance for Atlético Madrid only to add another versatile player to the roster.

And Heitinga's first few appearances at right back and defensive midfield, both positions he has previously occupied, seemed to corroborate those suspicions. He seemed sluggish, awkward, and unduly aggressive.

It wasn't until a defensive injury crisis in the fall of 2009, when Heitinga was switched to centre half, that the former Ajax star put all concerns to rest, establishing himself as the world-class defender he had been billed as.

Heitinga was established as the rock of Everton's defense after a succession of man-of-the-match performances that were at the core of the Blues' winter resurrection.

Evertonians were left wondering whether the club had discovered its future captain and legend in the making thanks to his no-nonsense, brutally successful defensive approach and leadership by example – quite a turnaround from his difficult start at Goodison Park.

Heitinga made history by being the first Everton player to play in a World Cup Final since 1966, when he assisted the Netherlands to victory in the showpiece event in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Despite another brilliant performance at the heart of the Dutch defense, he was severely removed by referee Howard Webb in the second round of extra time for a second yellow card. To make matters worse, his side would go on to lose the Final to Spain, courtesy to a goal by

Andres Iniesta


Heitinga returned from the World Cup after a lengthy absence, and it took him some time to adjust to life in the Premier League, with Moyes preferring the defensive pairing of Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin, a tendency that would continue into the 2011-12 season.

Indeed, with Heitinga trying to prove that he was a viable option in central midfield and third in the central defense pecking order, he found himself on the bench for a few games and the subject of the first rumblings of media conjecture associating him with a return to Europe.

But an injury to Distin in September 2011 enabled Heitinga to reclaim his spot, and he seized it with both hands, creating a fine relationship with Jagielka and earning the fans' Player of the Season award for the 2011-12 season.

The next season, though, John was relegated to the bench as Moyes chose for the Jagielka-Distin duo once again, with Heitinga doing his case no favors with some especially poor performances when called upon.

In December 2012, his agent expressed his dissatisfaction with his lack of first-team participation, and the player himself made the first signs that he might consider leaving Goodison if the proper chance arose.

That wouldn't happen for another year, with Martinez neglecting his waning potential in the same way that Moyes did in his last season in charge.

He ultimately joined Fulham on January 31, 2014, on Deadline Day, as part of the London club's desperate attempt to escape relegation.

John Heitinga has spoken up about his time at Everton, admitting that the club is like home to him. After moving to Merseyside from Atletico Madrid in 2009, the defender spent four and a half years at Goodison Park.

During his time with the Blues, the Holland international excelled, especially during the 2011/12 season, when he was named Fans' Player of the Season.

And, when speaking with Tim Cahill, another former Everton player, Heitinga has revealed more about his time at the club.

He acknowledges that he enjoyed every minute of his time with the Blues, even though he struggled in his first encounter in England. "Ajax is like my home," Heitinga remarked, "but I have the same feeling with Everton."

"The pace of the game was incredible in my first game at Goodison Park! Believe me, I experienced cramp from my tiny toe to [points to top of head] I'm not sure how you describe that in English. It was all kick and rush versus Blackburn Rovers."

"Goodison Park is a particular spot for me; it's like family to me. 'Once a blue, always a blue,' they say, and it's true. It's not only the stadium or the supporters; it's the kit man, the culinary staff..."

"This was especially true in the 2011-12 season. We lost the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley, but it was memorable for me because I was elected player of the year by the fans. At Goodison Park, it's still all about the memories. We annihilated the teams who came there -

Manchester City



, all the major clubs!"

David Moyes signed Heitinga to the club, but he departed soon after Roberto Martinez took over at Goodison Park, moved to Fulham on a short-term deal before joining Hertha Berlin.

Heitinga said, "David Moyes was a people's manager; he gave me the battling spirit. He wasn't the finest tactical trainer I'd ever worked with, but the minute I walked through the door at Everton, it felt like home."

"I recall David Moyes making a phone call to me while I was playing for Atletico Madrid. It was just his tale, the way he told it about Everton, the Premier League, and my role in the club. I spoke to my wife, we went to Liverpool, and I played for Everton because I wanted to work with this person. He reminded me of a warrior.”

Heitinga was part of a good group put together by Moyes, although no titles were won during that period.

But, while the former Holland international recalls his teammates, he recognizes that they had a lot of talent, but he also remembers the battling spirit they managed to instill.

"We had a terrific team, we were like a unit, Louis Saha was an excellent finisher. Not to mention [Marouane] Fellaini! We'd kick the ball long if we were in danger, he'd control the ball on his chest, and we'd play from there.”

Some quick facts about John Heitinga:

Due to an injury, Heitinga played once for Ajax in the 2002/2003 season. Over the following seasons, Heitinga became a mainstay in the defense of Ajax. Playing together with experienced mandekker Jaap Stam, Heitinga's game got better.

Partly because of Stam, Heitinga started to work more on his body in order to gain more physical strength defensively. Although Heitinga was originally placed as a right-back with the arrival of Stam, he had to play in the center shortly after the start of the 07/08 season because Stam ended his career.

Ajax came in second, three points behind PSV, but Heitinga did win the Player of the Year award for that season.

On March 25, 2008, it was announced that Heitinga would transfer to Atlético Madrid for 10 million euros. In his first season he played 27 games there in which he scored three times.

From August 2009 Heitinga played for Everton FC in England. On 13 September 2009 he made his debut for the club against Fulham FC.

At the end of the 2011-2012 season, he was voted player of the year by the supporters. But during the 2013-14 season, Heitinga was not in Everton's plans.

He made his first minutes of the 2013/14 Premier League season only on Round 21, on 11 January 2014, when he replaced Leon Osman after 69 minutes in the home game against

Norwich City

, which was won 2–0.

A notable

fact about John Heitinga

is that he signed a contract with Fulham FC on January 31, 2014, just before the close of the winter transfer window, where he would play for the rest of the season. At Fulham he ended up with former teammate Maarten Stekelenburg, among others.

Heitinga made his official debut for Fulham on 9 February 2014 in the Premier League away match against Manchester United which ended in 2-2.

Heitinga scored his first official goal for Fulham on 1 March 2014 in their Premier League home game against Chelsea FC. Heitinga scored the only goal for Fulham after trailing 3-0. Fulham announced on May 23, 2014 that Heitinga's expiring contract will not be renewed.

On June 4, 2014, it was announced that Heitinga had reached a verbal agreement with Hertha BSC on a two-year contract with an option for a further year.

On June 23, 2014, the transfer was completed and Heitinga signed his contract. On 16 August 2014, Heitinga made his official debut for Hertha BSC in a cup match against SV Victoria 1911 Köln. This one was won 4-2.

On October 25, 2014, Heitinga scored his first official goal for Hertha. In a Bundesliga match at home against Hamburger SV was won 3-0.

Heitinga quite often had to settle for a place on the reserve bench or in the stands. After the end of his first season, Heitinga was allowed to leave Hertha again. At the beginning of June 2015, his old club Ajax announced that it would like to bring Heitinga back to Amsterdam.

A notable fact about John Heitinga is that he returned to Ajax in June 2015. Here he signed a contract until June 30, 2016 with an option for another season. At the start of the competition, De Boer chose Joël Veltman and Jaïro Riedewald as the central duo, which meant that Heitinga had to settle for a place on the reserve bench.

To gain match rhythm, he played with Jong Ajax on August 24, 2015 in the Jupiler League home match against

FC Eindhoven

(0 – 0). In the KNVB Cup match against De Graafschap on September 23, 2015, he made his comeback for Ajax after seven years.

Heitinga came on the field ten minutes before the end. Just a few minutes after his substitute, he accidentally got the ball on his head during a corner, making it 2-0. He made his comeback in the Eredivisie during round 11 on 31 October 2015 in Ajax's home match against Roda JC (6-0 win).

Heitinga came on for Nemanja Gudelj after an hour of play. Heitinga received little playing time from De Boer during the first half of the season. He was also frequently left out of the match selection by De Boer.

De Boer indicated that Heitinga had lost more speed than he had expected and therefore would not come into the system of Ajax with a lot of space in the back.

Partly due to the disappointing return to Ajax, Heitinga decided to end his professional football career at the beginning of February 2016. Both Ajax and Heitinga had expressed the intention to enter into a new agreement in the short term as trainer of the youth, Young Ajax and the A-selection.

John Heitinga social media


John Heitinga social media

, it should be mentioned that he has an Instagram page (


) with 106k followers. In the page we can see various pictures of him with the fans and his family.

He also has a Twitter account (


) with more than 382k followers. He often posts new stuff on his Twitter page.

John Heitinga body measurements

Speaking about

John Heitinga body measurements

, it should be mentioned that the former star is 180 cm and 77 kg.

John Heitinga net worth and salary

John Heitinga’s net worth

is believed to be between $3 million and $5 million dollars. From his major profession as a soccer player as well as a coach, he has amassed a substantial fortune.

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