This no-nonsense, battle hardened professional was sent off in the 2010 World Cup final against Spain after picking up a second yellow card, but he could consider himself to be unfortunate to be alone in seeing red on that infamous night in Johannesburg as the tackles flew in with menacing intent from so many of his Dutch team-mates.
It was a tragic end to what had been a fine tournament for Heitinga and he has been a reliable performer at club level with Everton once again this season, with his ability to play in a variety of positions across the back line making him a valuable man for Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk to have in his ranks.
Heitinga is also rightly proud of his work with disabled children in Holland, with his annual tournament one of the highlights of his year. “We have a duty as people in the public eye to try and make a contribution and I enjoy the work we have been able to do with some kids suffering in Holland,” says Heitinga. “To see their smiling faces makes us all feel so much better.”