Everton FC defender John Heitinga eager for Premiership test
12 September 2009 08:00
JOHN HEITINGA was, up until ten days ago, living in one of Europe's glitziest cities and playing Champions League football for one of the game's most famous names.
When you considered that for a moment, it is clear that they are ingredients you would not give up lightly, so it is no surprise that the Dutchman has found himself being asked regularly this week and last: why have you swopped Atletico Madrid for Everton?
Given that Everton do not have the fiscal power to pay the kind of wages that some of their wealthier rivals are able to, this switch is clearly not money driven, while Liverpool does not enjoy a climate like the one in the Spanish capital.
But those thinking that there must be an ulterior motive behind Heitinga's deadline day transfer can rest easy.
As he was presented to the media yesterday afternoon, it was clear to see that the opportunity to play for a progressive club was his only motivation.
Though he is unlikely to be handed an immediate start at Fulham tomorrow - Heitinga only trained with his new team-mates for the first time yesterday - he is rubbing his hands at the thought of what the next five years might hold.
He is also thrilled that he has left behind the referees who caused him nightmares during his 14-month stay at Vincente Calderon due to their persistent name-taking tendencies; as someone who 'loves to tackle' they became the bane of Heitinga's professional life.
'This is one of the strongest competitions in the world,' explained the man who will wear the Blues number five shirt.
'Last year I played in La Liga, which is also a strong competition, but the level is higher here and I'm looking forward to testing myself.
'A lot of people have asked me why I have left Madrid but the answer is simple - I want to play in the Premier League and have felt like that for a long time.
'This club suits me. The Premier League and the type of game here will fit me better than Spain.
'The decision was hard to make as I can't play in Europe, at least until the New Year, but the feeling that I got from Everton was very good and the people who I spoke to about playing here also said good things.
'After listening to so many opinions, there was only one conclusion to come to and that was I wanted to play for Everton. I will give everything that I have to help this club win a prize in the near future.