Former Premier League defender John Heitinga announced his retirement from professional football at the age of 32, according to Daily Mail.
Heitinga ended a career spanning 15 years after coming through the youth system at Ajax in 2001.
He came to the limelight playing for the Eredivisie giants for seven seasons from 2001 till 2008. His gradual development did not go unnoticed as La Liga side Atletico Madrid came calling in the summer of 2008 and lured the Dutchman to Vicente Calderon for £8.8 million.
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Despite a good season, his Spanish stay was short-lived as the Rojiblancos decided to part companies with him and thereby Heitinga moved to England signing for Everton in 2009.
His most notable part of his football career came at Goodison Park where he featured in 140 games for the Toffees in all competitions, playing as a central defender as well as a defensive midfielder.
He was the Player of the Year in 2012 for the Merseyside club. The centre-half then moved to London joining Fulham on a six-month loan deal in January 2013.
Heitinga then signed for Bundesliga side Hertha Berlin on a two-year deal. However, he decided to return to his homeland in the Netherlands in 2015 where Ajax offered him a one-year contract with the option for a second year.
During the first-half of this season, he managed only two appearances, both as substitutes and the former Holland international has now decided to retire, thereby terminating his contract with the Amsterdam-based outfit.
Following the announcement, ESPN quoted Heitinga saying: “My ultimate desire was to return to Amsterdam and at the end of the season as a player for the third time celebrate championship trophy with the Ajax fans.”
He further added: “Yet I realised in December that the time to put an end to my active career was coming closer. The farewell is slightly ahead of schedule. But I look forward to this new chapter in my life.”
His boyhood club disclosed later that Heitinga will be joining the coaching staff at Amsterdam Arena with immediate effect.
He won 87 caps for the Netherlands national team and although his best moment in national colours came by reaching the finals of the World Cup in 2010, it ended in dismay when he got sent off against Spain.
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