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Formerly Just Mike & Micky
I'm intrigued to know what it is worth.

It shouldn't be but its a big deal in this day and age, with FFP.


TEF Member

Megafon:How much will this job cost
NEC :2 Billion US dollars.
Megafon : Here is 2.5 billion dollars, now we have a small favour to ask you

Not gonna lie, I would be absolutely all over a kit with NEC on the front.


TEF Member

Megafon:How much will this job cost
NEC :2 Billion US dollars.
Megafon : Here is 2.5 billion dollars, now we have a small favour to ask you

Not gonna lie, I would be absolutely all over a kit with NEC on the front.
Just don't do that deal via email...


TEF Member
The article clearly says we’ve cancelled it due to new opportunities that have presented themselves.

We were getting the best part of £10m a year from sportpesa and you’d imagine there will have been some costs involved to cut short the contract so you’d have thought it’d be one of ussies big companies for a big whack every year, probably with a big chunk of it being paid up front.
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TEF Member
Good about time we got a decent sponsorship deal to make up for the shite deals we have had in the past
I think we’ll be lucky to get half that myself. All those clubs are regulars in Europe comps and have been for years while we can’t even qualify for it in successive years. The reason they get the big bucks is they have the major exposure and until we can match that our deals will always be inferior sadly.

andrew street

CDPA Panelist
I think we’ll be lucky to get half that myself. All those clubs are regulars in Europe comps and have been for years while we can’t even qualify for it in successive years. The reason they get the big bucks is they have the major exposure and until we can match that our deals will always be inferior sadly.
I suspect the point is less how much we are worth but more how much someone wants to front us within bounds of FFP.
It would be interesting if someone tried to say that because we are shite, a squillion quid deal is not market value because spurs reached a CL final.


TEF Member
I think we’ll be lucky to get half that myself. All those clubs are regulars in Europe comps and have been for years while we can’t even qualify for it in successive years. The reason they get the big bucks is they have the major exposure and until we can match that our deals will always be inferior sadly.
That being said. Getting 20 million a season is a massive increase to what we are on now. And a king's ransom compared to the coppers we got with Chang.

For Ffp it will make a massive difference
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TEF Member
I suspect the point is less how much we are worth but more how much someone wants to front us within bounds of FFP.
It would be interesting if someone tried to say that because we are shite, a squillion quid deal is not market value because spurs reached a CL final.
UEFA and the premier league are going to be all over this sort of thing now given the City situation I don’t think Moshiri and his mate will be trying such an obvious con while we’re still having trouble bridging the gap to the top. Our sponsorship deal jumping almost 6 fold while our profile remains the same would set alarm bells ringing through all the boardrooms in the premier and European leagues and the outcry would mean action would need to be taken in my opinion.


Any kind nonce with a subscription to The Athletic copy and paste the article with Heitinga for me?
John Heitinga interview: 'My coaching inspirations? Cruyff, Van Gaal, Guardiola, Moyes'
By Patrick Boyland

“For me, it’s simple: it’s two lots of 45 minutes and for those minutes it’s war. It’s all about winning. Whatever I need to do to win… cheat… I’ll do it.”

John Heitinga is speaking about two incidents that those familiar with the Dutchman’s career inevitably ask him about time and time again.

The first, a penalty shootout altercation with Chelsea defender Ashley Cole during Everton’s FA Cup fourth-round replay win at Stamford Bridge in 2011, is one that supporters on the blue half of Merseyside instantly cite whenever discussion turns to their former defender. With scores locked at 3-3 in the shootout after four penalties each, Heitinga purposely collided with the Chelsea full-back on his way back from the area. Cole, visibly flustered, went on to sky his penalty and Phil Neville sealed victory for Everton with the next kick.

The other, which we’ll come onto shortly, occurred late on in the 2010 World Cup final against Spain — the most bittersweet evening of his entire playing career.

Put together, the two incidents offer a telling insight into Heitinga the competitor. But as he sits down with The Athletic at Ajax’s Toekomst training base as the coach of the club’s Under-19 side, it’s also fair to say that there’s more to the 36-year-old than blood and thunder.

“I hope they (Everton supporters) remember me for more than this,” he says with a laugh recalling the incident with Cole. “It was just a game for me. I had scored a penalty and then it just happened. I didn’t know it was Cole but a Chelsea player was coming in my direction and I wanted to win. Sometimes to do that you need to take risks.

“It’s his moment. For sure it was already in his mind about putting the ball into one corner. For a split second, he was out of his comfort zone. It was just Cole’s face like, ‘what the fuck is he doing?’ That is still a funny moment for me.”

Standing at just under 6ft in a division full of hulking strikers, Heitinga would use anything he could to gain a crucial advantage — even if, as with Cole, he sometimes crossed a line.

“Sometimes I would talk to the strikers, warn them or kick them in the first minute,” he reveals. “I played against so many good strikers. Didier Drogba, Wayne Rooney and Fernando Torres were all at their best at that time. When we played against Stoke, Peter Crouch would go onto the small centre-back.

“I’m not the tallest so it was always a battle. Sometimes I would step back, other times I’d go in front and other times I’d battle. That’s also a game. You don’t need to be the biggest one to win.”

‘Battle’ is a word that crops up multiple times during our hour-long conversation. It’s also one that some long-term observers of the sport use to describe the 2010 World Cup final between Holland and Spain, a game that saw 46 fouls, 14 yellow cards and one red — for Heitinga.

The Dutch had impressed on their way to the final with their blend of skill and power; Wesley Sneijder pulling the strings in midfield and Arjen Robben providing a direct outlet on the wing. However, in Johannesburg, a new brutal gameplan emerged which was seen in some quarters as an attempt to kick their highly technical opponents off the field. It led to scathing comments from national icon Johan Cruyff, who labelled the display “anti-football”.

“It was probably the occasion,” Heitinga remembers. “We’d played good football in all of the games before but the whistle went and we were not ourselves. In the second half we were the better side though and had chances.”

Already on a booking, Heitinga became the fifth player to be sent off in a World Cup final when he was handed a second yellow card by Howard Webb in the 109th minute. There was an element of bad fortune about the dismissal, with Heitinga dismissed while other significantly more robust challenges — including an infamous ‘kung fu kick’ from Nigel de Jong — escaped major sanction. Spain went on to win the game 1-0 thanks to Andres Iniesta’s 116th-minute strike but the former Ajax and Everton defender harbours no regrets.

“I don’t have hard feelings towards Howard Webb,” Heitinga says. “It was the most difficult game of his career – and it was a red card for De Jong. And anyway, I never lost the game, because it was still 0-0 when I was sent off! I can’t change it anymore.

“We were crying and sad we’d lost, but when we got back to Amsterdam the reception we got was crazy. Everyone was in orange. That moment we felt like world champions. It was still one of the best moments in my career, playing in the biggest game on earth. There aren’t many people who can say they played in a World Cup final. I was playing the best football of my career around then.”

A youth product from the famous Ajax academy, Heitinga had already been at Goodison for a year by the time of the World Cup final. Signed from Atletico Madrid for a fee of just over £6 million, he struck an instant bond with the Everton supporters that endures to this day. At one stage, it all could have been very different, and the move could never have happened at all.

“When I was 18 I had surgery and I couldn’t stretch my knee anymore,” the 36-year-old explains. “I’ll never forget the moment I was doing the medical tests when I signed for Everton. My knee was pointing to one side and the doctor was like, ‘How the fuck do you play football’? They knew but they signed me. The doctors here (at Ajax) said it’s a medical miracle I played for so long.

“I did my research the moment David Moyes asked me to come. I saw Goodison and watched matches live on TV. It was a special feeling. I’ll never forget my first day there — it was a very warm welcome. The first training session at Finch Farm, even the masseur Jimmy (Comer, dad of Killing Eve star Jodie) had a big Everton tattoo. I thought, ‘OK, this club is special’. It’s the way they treat people.

“It was insane. From the minute I started playing in the jersey in front of the home crowd there was an immediate connection from both sides. My first game was at centre-back and I had cramp after 60 minutes because the intensity in England is much higher than Spain or Holland. I was fit but not used to playing in the Premier League.”

Under Moyes, Heitinga and Everton routinely qualified for Europe on a shoestring budget, claiming a number of key victories against top teams at Goodison in the process. “Every match, especially at Goodison, was like we were playing in a final — especially against the big teams,” he says. “We knocked most of them down a couple of times. That was thanks to a combination of the fans, the quality in the team but also Moyes.

“We were a team. Tim (Cahill) was a big star but maybe not the best footballer. He was always in the box and had great ability with his head. Mikel (Arteta) was a smart player. But for me, the best combination we had was on the left side with Leighton (Baines) with his hair cut like one of the Beatles and Steven (Pienaar) — they were unbelievably good.

“It was just the feeling they had together. The connection was just amazing. For me, at that time, I couldn’t believe that Leighton never made the next step (in the face of interest from Manchester United and Bayern Munich).”

A team spirit had been fostered that allowed Moyes’ Everton to overcome the odds. Off the field, training was intense and some players, including Heitinga, would play through the pain barrier in a bid to achieve success for the club.

“The level in training was high,” Heitinga says. “Guys like Hibbo (Tony Hibbert) would make others better because of their character. We had winners in the team so even in small games, you’d have to wear shin pads. You could get injured.

“For three years I played all of the games. But I already had some issues with my knee. I think my pain level is quite high and I played many games with painkillers and injections. Others did too. That’s why we were winners.”

Heitinga still speaks fondly of Moyes, particularly from a man-management point of view. And while the Scot failed to take his big opportunity at Manchester United, he has left a lasting mark on his former charge, who incorporates some of those methods into his own coaching at Toekomst.

“I always say I had better tactical coaches but mentally he was one of the best because there was a team spirit and you wanted to fight for him,” Heitinga notes. “I personally think he still regrets the move to Manchester United. It was a big opportunity but Everton was also his club and he did an unbelievable job there.

“It was the way he treated people, spoke about opponents and believed in his own players. If it was not good, he would always tell us as he was honest.

“Now as a coach, for me it’s about loyalty, honesty and being direct. Last week I did a possession game in training and it was like, ‘let’s see who is the strongest, one-on-one.’”

Following short spells at Fulham, Hertha Berlin and Ajax upon leaving Goodison in 2014, Heitinga retired from football in 2016 aged just 32. Injuries finally caught up with him and a new chapter beckoned. He quickly discovered television punditry wasn’t for him but was offered a role as the assistant manager of Ajax’s Under-23 side soon after. “I was 32 and way too young to just sit at home,” he says. “In the academy, I was always a captain and in the Dutch team I was one of the leaders.”

Heitinga was part of an Ajax dressing room that featured the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sneijder and Rafael van der Vaart among others, and is now tasked with continuing the club’s proud tradition of bringing through top quality young players. It is not something he feels as a burden, even if he acknowledges the need to constantly stay ahead of the curve. Four years into his time at Toekomst and there has been a steady stream of players through from his Under-19 side to the first-team. Ryan Gravenberch, a 17-year-old midfielder, is one that is already managing the step up and tipped for big things.

But what makes Ajax’s academy different?

“We have one goal together to bring Champions League players through to the first-team,” Heitinga says. “There is a pathway from the first-team through to the Under-8s. I have the first-team database and they have mine. We all share. We don’t have a secret — it’s just the way we treat our players, the discipline we ask from them. Age is just a number if you’re good enough.

“We take risks. It means we can lose games as well. Of course you want to win but it’s important to learn. The individual player is the priority. Sometimes we put them out of their comfort zone. With one player, we told the parents not to say anything but I’d call late on Monday telling him he needed to be at the airport early the next day for a UEFA Youth League game that Tuesday. We see how he handles it.

“Last year, one of my best players came too late for the training session before the Youth League game against Lyon. I said ‘Thank you for coming but you’re not coming with us to France’. Another once came two minutes too late and he wasn’t allowed to train. I gave him another kind of session on Saturday. Every player is allowed to play badly every now and then but we want to always see intensity and fight.”

A day after speaking to Heitinga in the Toekomst canteen, The Athletic is invited back to watch his side’s final training session before the crunch weekend clash with rivals Feyenoord. The session starts with a series of small-sided games played in confined spaces — a variation on the rondo made famous in Spain and now used across the world. Players take turns to pass between each other while attempting to keep the ball away from two players in the middle. After five passes, they are allowed to score in one of the three goals in their section of the pitch. It is played at a feverish pace.

Crouched low barking instructions — at one stage he admonishes two players in the middle for a lack of intensity in their pressing — Heitinga has lost none of his bite, nor is he prepared to rest on his laurels. The intensity and physicality of Moyes’ sessions are also clear to see.

“There are a few influences: Ajax’s style from the past with Cruyff, but also Van Gaal, and the relationship that Moyes had with players,” Heitinga says. “Pep Guardiola, Diego Simeone are two others. Also Liverpool’s high intensity — when they get the ball, it’s the quickest way to goal.

“I know how I want my team to play. It’s the Ajax DNA with the fighting spirit. The system has changed if you see Ajax, sometimes they play with three No 10s.”

Heitinga is currently studying for his UEFA Pro Licence and splits his time between the Under-19 side and shadowing Erik ten Hag’s first-team. The aim is to complete his qualifications this summer and slowly make the step towards management.

“After this season, I’ll finish my Pro Licence and then go step by step. I want to manage but I have to show I have the ability. A team like Everton will always be in my heart.”

Despite how it worked out at Goodison in the end and his new role at Ajax, Heitinga is perhaps at his most animated when talking about Everton. The Athletic is told he is dutiful when it comes to obligated media requests but rarely turns down an opportunity to speak about his time on Merseyside.

He still thinks about how it ended, wondering if he could have done anything differently.

“Yes it did hurt,” he says when asked about leaving Everton. “I made maybe one mistake: in my head, I was still a top player but my body wasn’t doing what my head was asking. They wanted to extend my contract in 2012 but I had doubts. As a player, I was hungry and wondered if I should take the next step.”

At his peak between 2010 and 2012, a host of top clubs from Spain and Germany were monitoring his situation. But with competition fierce — Heitinga was competing with Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin for a starting place — and his contract running down, he started to play an increasingly peripheral role. In 2012-13, the Dutchman made just 17 Premier League appearances. To make matters worse, that summer Moyes left to be replaced by Roberto Martinez.

“We had a conversation when Martinez came in and they chose someone else. I was told I could play the cup games but we were knocked out early. I was not the same player as before,” he admits.

West Ham and Fulham both fought for his services in January 2014, with the west Londoners eventually winning the race.

“With West Ham, the feeling was not good,” he says. “I make decisions with the heart and I said no. Louis van Gaal told me I needed to play regular games, so I moved to a club (Fulham) where I knew I would play every week.”

Six years after his departure from Goodison, Heitinga still pays close attention to Everton’s fortunes. He is positive about the appointment of Carlo Ancelotti and, with a chuckle, recalls the comical incident against Crystal Palace last week when Djibril Sidibe realised he wasn’t wearing a sock as he was waiting to come on as a substitute. If time permits, he is hoping to come to the March 1 home game against Manchester United at Goodison, discussing the possibility with Everton director of football and fellow Dutchman Marcel Brands.

A lot has changed since his time on Merseyside. Everton have more money but are not necessarily doing any better in the table. There he makes the case for continuity as far as the next few seasons are concerned.

“The team has changed a lot,” Heitinga says. “We stayed for a long time. Now, if it’s not good, they change you for another player. You need to give players longer to settle. The manager has also changed a lot and so has the system.

“We just had one system with Moyes. Hopefully, under this manager, the team can be stable again. They have started well but they need to build.

“I’ve followed all the scores since I left. It’s my team like Ajax is my team. It’s true what they say: ‘Once a blue, always a blue’.”

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