Feb 02, 2023 at 8:12 PMUpdate: 7 minutes ago
John Heitinga glows with pride because of his appointment as trainer of Ajax. The former defender, who signed a contract until the end of the season on Thursday, hopes to be able to lead the team from Amsterdam to success after a difficult first half of the season.
“I think I have the Ajax DNA. Hopefully I can translate that to the group,” says 39-year-old Heitinga in conversation with Ajax TV. “This is a moment for me to be proud of. I’m really looking forward to it and I hope that I will enjoy it with my staff.”
After the dismissal of Alfred Schreuder, Heitinga was promoted from Jong Ajax to the first team last week. Under his leadership, Ajax won 1-4 at Excelsior on Sunday. On Thursday, the club announced that the 87-time international will be in front of the group for the rest of the season.
Heitinga, who played for Ajax between 2001 and 2008, did not have to think twice when he was asked to finish the season as head coach. “Of course I didn’t know if and when I got the chance. The only thing I could do is prepare myself well.”
In his new role, Heitinga is assisted by the experienced Dwight Lodeweges, who has been recruited as an additional assistant trainer. With the new impulse in the technical staff, Ajax must fight back in the battle for the national title. In addition, the 36-time national champion hopes to score high in the Europa League and the TOTO KNVB Cup.
John Heitinga made his debut last Sunday as interim coach of Ajax and can now finish the season.Photo: Pro Shots
“It’s only about one thing and that is becoming champion”
In the Eredivisie, Ajax is currently in fourth place in the Eredivisie, although the difference with leader Feyenoord is ‘only’ five points. “We know that Ajax is only about one thing and that is becoming champion,” says Heitinga, who already has an idea of how he wants to make his mark as a new trainer.
His predecessor Schreuder made a change to his starting eleven every week, but his successor wants to get rid of that. “The most important thing is to create certainties. We want to play more often in fixed compositions. It is up to the players to earn a place. In addition, I want to play offensively. We want to be dominant, create many opportunities and score. That is part of Ajax.”
In the second match under Heitinga, Ajax will take on SC Cambuur in Leeuwarden on Sunday. Four days later, the difficult away match against FC Twente awaits in the Grolsch Veste in the eighth finals of the KNVB Cup.
Top five Premier League
1. Feyenoord 19-42 (+27)2. AZ 19-40 (+16)3. PSV 19-38 (+24)4. Ajax 19-37 (+30)5. FC Twente 19-36 (+19)