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Wednesday, 9 November 2011

John Heitinga

Name in native country: John Gijsbert Alan Heitinga
Date of birth: 15.11.1983
Place of birth: Alphen aan den Rijn
Height: 1,80
Nationality: Netherlands
Position: Defence - Centre Back
Foot: right
Nickname: Johnny
Chant: Oh Johnny Johnny...

Heitinga is a determined centre back whose performances for Everton in 2011/12 have made him the player of the season in many fans eyes.

Did You Know? Heitinga is best friends with  Holland star Wesley Sneijder!

Heitinga was part of the 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.

He 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 the league), and scoring 3 goals for Atlético.

In September 2009 Heitinga joined English club Everton for a fee of around €7.04million (£6.2million). He was given squad number 5, though he was not be eligible to represent Everton in the Europa League having already played for Atletico Madrid in the qualifying stage of the Champions League.

Heitinga made his debut for Everton on 13 September against Fulham after coming on for an injured Phil Neville. In his first season for the club, Heitinga made 35 appearances in all competitions.

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.

As he walked back to his team-mates he purposefully barged into the oncoming Ashley Cole, who was next to take Chelsea's penalty, disrupting Cole's concentration and causing him to miss his spot kick. 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 player of the season for 2011-12 narrowly beating Leighton Baines who had been named in the PFA Team of the year for that season, this goes some way in showing just how well Johnny did for us making the centre back position his own.

During 2012-13 Sylvain Distin's good form kept Heitinga out of the team and you could see he was obviously frustrated. Heitinga forced his way back into the team but had to make do with playing in a defensive midfield role once Distin and Jagielka were both back fit after minor injuries.

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