Despite lifting the team from fifth to third place in the table, Ajax fell short of their expectations by failing to qualify for the Champions League for the first time since 2009. As a result, the club has chosen to hire a more experienced tactician.
The former Dutch international aged 39, took charge of the team in late January after Alfred Schreuder’s departure.
Although it was his first role as a head coach of a senior team, he had previously worked with the club’s reserves. His initial deal was set to last until the end of the season.
While Ajax has decided not to extend his stay as head coach, there is a possibility that Heitinga may remain involved with the club in another capacity.
Sven Mislintat, Ajax’s director of football, expressed the difficulty of the decision, stating, “On a personal level, this was a tough decision and it was not easy to tell him.
” Mislintat acknowledged Heitinga’s dedication and contribution during a challenging period for the club, saying, “John got on board to help the club in a difficult time, and he did that full of dedication. We are very grateful for that.”
Recognizing Heitinga’s potential, the club intends to play a role in his development and keep him connected to Ajax. However, Mislintat ultimately concluded that Ajax requires a more experienced head coach.
Feyenoord secured the Dutch league title for the season, finishing 13 points ahead of Ajax, while PSV Eindhoven claimed the second Champions League qualification spot as runners-up.