Heitinga announces retirement from football


Former Netherlands international John Heitinga has announced his retirement from football effective immediately.

Heitinga was on the books of Ajax this season but only managed to see 40 minutes of Eredivisie action.

The 32-year-old decided to bring an end to his career after talks with his agent Rob Jansen and Ajax coach Frank de Boer.

"I realised in December that the time to put an end to my active career came closer," he told the official Ajax website. 

"I conducted good talks with my agent Rob Jansen, Ajax coach Frank de Boer and Edwin van der Sar among others. And now I have made it known that I stop playing football immediately.

"The farewell is slightly ahead of schedule, but I keep Ajax in my heart and I look forward to this new chapter in my life."

Heitinga came through the youth ranks at Ajax before a EUR10million move to La Liga outfit Atletico Madrid in 2008. 

After spending a season in Spain, Heitinga was picked up by Premier League side Everton, where he went on to make 140 appearances across four and a half seasons. 

The central defender then had stints at Fulham and in the Bundesliga with Hertha Berlin, before returning to his homeland in 2015 on a one-year deal with Ajax. 

Heitinga was capped by Netherlands 87 times, scoring seven goals. He helped the side reach the 2010 World Cup final against Spain but was sent off in extra-time of the decider.  

"John can look back on a great international football career," De Boer said.

"The last six months have not become what we all hoped before, but nothing should detract from this. 

"I told him he can stay with Ajax any way he wants to. He wants to coach and he can do that at Ajax. 

"He is always very popular with our fans and deserves a farewell in a full Ajax stadium."