Perfectionist coach lifts Hammers to new heights


Perfectionist coach lifts Hammers to new heights

John Heitinga, at the age of 39, has taken to life at West Ham very quickly indeed. The former Netherlands international defender, had a solid playing career at clubs like Ajax, Atletico Madrid, and Everton. Now, he has reunited with his former manager David Moyes as he takes the first steps into the coaching realm.

This journey started back in his home country, at the Amsterdam club where Heitinga first began his professional football career. Returning to the roots where it all began holds a special place for him, and now, Heitinga is eager to continue this journey with West Ham.

John Heitinga: Hammers new coach brings a wealth of experience.

“I’m delighted to be here, I really like to be on the pitch, to work with the boys. It’s a great opportunity to be here.” Said Moyes new right hand man.

For Heitinga, the desire to transition into coaching became apparent upon retiring from professional football at the age of 32 in February 2016. Uncertain about the specific path to take, an opportunity to coach within the academy system he emerged from at Ajax arose. Teaching and nurturing the next generation of prospects at Ajax rekindled Heitinga’s passion for competitive football.

“I didn’t know, as a player, that I would want to be a coach. But when I retired from professional football, I knew I wanted to do something in football. I had to find out what,” he recalled.

From Ajax to Rush Green

This journey at Ajax saw Heitinga work through various roles within the academy, beginning with the U11s and eventually leading to stints as head coach of the U23s and interim head coach of the first team during a challenging period for the club.

Following his time at Ajax, the opportunity to work alongside manager David Moyes at West Ham United emerged, and Heitinga eagerly seized it. He acknowledges the value of working with experienced figures like Moyes, emphasizing the rich discussions and idea-sharing within the coaching group at West Ham. He is especially keen to improve daily, relishing the opportunity to work with Premier League footballers.

“This is so good for my development. In this team, we have a lot of good football players and this allows us to look at different things,” he shared.

Heitinga is a firm believer in a competitive and winning culture, which he aims to instil within the team. He emphasizes the importance of providing the tools and support to every player, fostering improvement and a strong collective spirit within the squad.

Heitinga’s coaching journey is marked by dedication, a relentless pursuit of improvement, and a desire to create a winning culture. With his vast experiences as a player and his enthusiasm for coaching, Heitinga is well on his way to making a lasting impact in the world of football management. It’s difficult to read his full interview and not conclude that Heitinga is a perfectionist.

I suspect he has a glittering career ahead of him.

To read the full interview, visit

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Hammers Chat video blogger @Gonzobignose