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John Heitinga
GAE - Ajax - 52788475730 (John Heitinga).jpg
Heitinga as manager of Ajax in 2023
Personal information
Date of birth (1983-11-15) 15 November 1983 (age 40)
Place of birth Alphen aan den Rijn, Netherlands
Height 1.80 m
Playing position Centre back
Club information
Current club West Ham United (first team coach)
Youth career
1987–1990 ARC
1990–2001 Ajax
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2001–2008 Ajax 152 (17)
2008–2009 Atlético Madrid 28 (3)
2009–2014 Everton 115 (2)
2014 Fulham 14 (1)
2014–2015 Hertha BSC 13 (1)
2015–2016 Ajax 2 (0)
Total 324 (24)
National team
2004–2013 Netherlands 87 (7)
Teams managed
2017–2021 Ajax A1 (U19)
2021–2023 Jong Ajax
2023 Ajax
2023– West Ham United (assistant)
Men's football
Representing  Netherlands
FIFA World Cup
Runner-up 2010 South Africa
UEFA European Championship
Bronze 2004 Portugal
UEFA European Under-16 Championship
Bronze 2000 Israel U-16 Team
  • Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

John Gilbert Alan "Johnny" Heitinga (born 15 November 1983) is a Dutch football coach and a former player who played as a centre back. He is now an assistant first-team coach at Premier League club West Ham United.

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 the Netherlands national team in February 2004, Heitinga had over 85 caps and 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.

Club career

Oslavy Ajaxu
Heitinga (right, with Urby Emanuelson, Wesley Sneijder, Maarten Stekelenburg, and Zdeněk Grygera) played for Ajax from 2001 to 2008.


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.

Michael Owen Johnny Heitinga cropped
Heitinga (left) with Michael Owen.

Atlético Madrid

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.

Hertha BSC

Heitinga signed a two-year contract with German club Hertha BSC in June 2014.

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.

Coaching career

In September 2023, Heitinga was appointed first-team coach at West Ham United as assistant to manager, David Moyes his former manager at Everton.

International career

Heitinga Oranje
Heitinga playing for the Netherlands.

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.

Euro 2004

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 the Netherlands national coach in the summer of 2004. By the end of 2005, had also again become a key player in the Ajax squad. He would also be selected by Van Basten for the Dutch national 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.

Sneijder Heitinga
Heitinga (right) and Wesley Sneijder have been close friends since boyhood.

Euro 2008

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, Boulahrouz en van Bronckhorst
John Heitinga (left) with Giovanni van Bronckhorst, Khalid Boulahrouz, and Phillip Cocu in 2010.

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. The Netherlands went on to lose the final 1–0 after Iniesta scored the winning goal for Spain in the 116th minute.

Career statistics


Appearances and goals by club, season and competition
Club Season League National cup League cup Continental Other Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Ajax 2001–02 Eredivisie 15 0 1 0 3 0 19 0
2002–03 Eredivisie 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
2003–04 Eredivisie 26 3 1 0 3 0 30 3
2004–05 Eredivisie 26 1 3 0 6 0 1 0 36 1
2005–06 Eredivisie 19 1 3 0 6 0 5 1 33 2
2006–07 Eredivisie 32 6 5 1 9 1 5 1 51 9
2007–08 Eredivisie 33 6 3 2 4 0 5 1 45 9
Total 152 17 16 3 31 1 16 3 215 24
Atlético Madrid 2008–09 La Liga 27 3 1 0 6 0 34 3
2009–10 La Liga 1 0 0 0 2 0 3 0
Total 28 3 1 0 8 0 37 3
Everton 2009–10 Premier League 31 0 2 0 2 0 35 0
2010–11 Premier League 27 1 3 0 1 0 31 1
2011–12 Premier League 30 1 6 1 3 0 39 2
2012–13 Premier League 26 0 2 1 2 0 30 1
2013–14 Premier League 1 0 2 1 2 0 5 1
Total 115 2 15 3 10 0 140 5
Fulham 2013–14 Premier League 14 1 0 0 0 0 14 1
Hertha BSC 2014–15 Bundesliga 13 1 1 0 14 1
Ajax 2015–16 Eredivisie 2 0 1 1 0 0 3 1
Career total 324 24 34 7 10 0 39 1 16 3 423 35
Heitinga 08.08
Heitinga in 2008 during training.


Appearances and goals by national team and year
National team Year Apps Goals
Netherlands 2004 12 1
2005 4 0
2006 8 1
2007 7 1
2008 12 3
2009 7 0
2010 15 0
2011 9 1
2012 11 0
2013 2 0
Total 87 7
Scores and results list the Netherlands' goal tally first, score column indicates score after each Heitinga goal.
List of international goals scored by John Heitinga
No. Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1 28 April 2004 Philips Stadion, Eindhoven, Netherlands  Greece 3–0 4–0 Friendly
2 1 June 2006 Philips Stadion, Eindhoven, Netherlands  Mexico 1–1 2–1 Friendly
3 6 June 2007 Rajamangala Stadium, Bangkok, Thailand  Thailand 2–0 3–1 Friendly
4 6 February 2008 Poljud Stadium, Split, Croatia  Croatia 1–0 3–0 Friendly
5 26 March 2008 Ernst-Happel-Stadion, Vienna, Austria  Austria 2–3 4–3 Friendly
6 10 September 2008 Skopje City Stadium, Skopje, Macedonia  Macedonia 1–0 2–1 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification
7 2 September 2011 Philips Stadion, Eindhoven, Netherlands  San Marino 3–0 11–0 Euro 2012 qualification

Managerial statistics

Managerial record by team and tenure
Team Nat From To Record Ref
G W D L Win %
Jong Ajax Netherlands 1 July 2021 27 January 2023 &&&&&&&&&&&&&059.&&&&&059 &&&&&&&&&&&&&023.&&&&&023 &&&&&&&&&&&&&017.&&&&&017 &&&&&&&&&&&&&019.&&&&&019 &&&&&&&&&&&&&038.98000038.98
Ajax Netherlands 27 January 2023 14 June 2023 &&&&&&&&&&&&&022.&&&&&022 &&&&&&&&&&&&&014.&&&&&014 &&&&&&&&&&&&&&04.&&&&&04 &&&&&&&&&&&&&&04.&&&&&04 &&&&&&&&&&&&&063.64000063.64
Total &&&&&&&&&&&&&081.&&&&&081 &&&&&&&&&&&&&037.&&&&&037 &&&&&&&&&&&&&021.&&&&&021 &&&&&&&&&&&&&023.&&&&&023 &&&&&&&&&&&&&045.68000045.68


Heitinga Bruma (cropped)
Heitinga (left) with Jeffrey Bruma




  • Amsterdam Sportsman of the Year: 2001
  • Ajax Talent of the Future (Sjaak Swart Award): 2000–01
  • Dutch Football Talent of the Year: 2003–04
  • Dutch Footballer of the Year: 2007–08
  • Everton Player of the Season: 2011–12

See also

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