"I love it at Everton"

During an interview with Voetbal International, John Heitinga has spoke of his love for Everton, the Clubs expectations and praised David Moyes as a “real people´s manager”

The majority of internationals of the Dutch squad play each year for the top prizes with their clubs, not you at Everton though. How much of a bother is that to you?

Heitinga: “Everton has to compete with strictly limited funds with rich clubs like Chelsea and both the Manchester clubs. Knowing that fact, you´ve got to stay realistic. Getting into Europe is the target, challenging for the Premier League title isn´t realistic. I know that and I won´t moan about that”.

“I love it at Everton and I´m not saying that to gain popularity, but couldn´t be more sincere. It´s a very warm family club, with a tremendous football atmosphere around it. That means much to me.´ I was brought up in the Ajax tradition, in an environment where only the best is good enough”.

“At Everton the expectations are different. Finish as high as possible each year, as for winning a price we have to aim for the Cup tournaments. It was extremely hard to take, getting beaten in the Semi Final of the FA Cup this year, especially because it was by Liverpool of all clubs. Finishing above them in the Premier League made up for a large part of that. It’s extremely important to the fans, because most of the time it’s the other way around. At least we won the fight for the Pride in Liverpool. Something David Moyes really made a target of. In his ten year spell at Everton, finishing above Liverpool only happened once before.’

In the English media, David Moyes is being touted as the most likely candidate to succeed Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United. What kind of manager is he?

Heitinga: ´I know the stories yes, but don´t think Moyes is the kind of man who would just walk out on Everton. He and the club are strangled together. After Ferguson and Wenger, he is the longest serving manager in the Premier League. It makes perfect sense that Moyes is being targeted by the top clubs. Everton only has a very small transfer budget each year and only a very thin squad. He works wonders within these margins, year in year out. He´s a real people´s manager, he knows how to reach the players.´

At what phase of you football career are you now?

Heitinga: ‘The general feeling is that the peak of a player’s career is between 27-29 years. I’d be in the midst of that peak by now. I have to say I’m feeling very strong for a while now. I personally think you can play at that peak for longer, as long as you keep taking care of yourself and keep working hard. I don’t even want to think about having to admit I’m over that top when I reach 30. I’ll do everything to keep playing at a high level. After my career I want to get my coaching badges. It’s great to see guys I played with together, now sitting in the dug out as a coach. Like Frank de Boer at Ajax, Giovanni van Bronckhorst at Feyenoord and Philip Cocu at PSV.’

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