John Heitinga has opened up on his time at Everton and admitted the club still feels like home to him.

The defender sent four-and-a-half years at Goodison Park after making the move to Merseyside in 2009 from Atletico Madrid.

The Holland international thrived during his time with the Blues, in particular during the 2011/12 campaign in which he was voted Fans' Player of the Season.

And, while in conversation with fellow former Everton star Tim Cahill, Heitinga has opened up more on his time with the club.

He admits that he loved every second that he played for the Blues, even if he struggled somewhat in his first match in English football!

Heitinga said: "Ajax is like me home, but I have the same with Everton.

"My first game the I played at Goodison Park, the speed of the game was unbelievable! I had cramp, believe me, from my small toe to [points to top of head] I don't know how you say it in English.

"It was against Blackburn Rovers, it was just kick and rush. It was like a nightmare! And then I had cramp in the 70th minute, something like that.

"To me, Goodison Park is a special place, it's like family. They say 'once a blue always a blue', and it is true.

"It's not only the stadium or the fans, it's the kit man, it's the people in the kitchen...I loved every single minute I was at Everton.

"Especially in the 2011/12 season. Unfortunately we lost the semi final in the FA Cup at Wembley, but for me it was special because I was voted player of the year by the fans.

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"Still it's just good memories at Goodison Park. The teams that came there - Manchester City, Chelsea, all the big teams - we destroyed them!"

Heitinga was brought to the club by David Moyes and left shortly inside Roberto Martinez's time at Goodison Park, switching to Fulham on a short-term contract before moving to Hertha Berlin.

And the former defender, who now manages Ajax's under-19 side, has explained how his move to Everton came about, and the effect his manager had on him.

"David Moyes was a people's manager, he gave me the fighting spirit," Heitinga added.

"He was maybe not the best trainer that I worked with tactically, but the moment I came and arrived at Everton first of all it felt like family.

"I remember the phone call that David Moyes made to me because I was playing at Atletico Madrid. Just his story, the way he was telling the story about Everton, the Premier League and my part in the team.

"I spoke to my wife, we travelled to Liverpool and I played for Everton because I just wanted to work under this guy. For me he was like a fighter.

"I think the moment he left was also for me a bit like, 'Ok, David Moyes is gone'. Then a lot of things changed at Everton with a new manager, and now you see how many managers they've used already since he left.

"He was special."

Heitinga became part of a strong squad assembled by Moyes, although unfortunately no trophies were won in that time.

But the former Holland international looks back at his teammates and knows there was a lot of quality there - but fondly remembers the fighting spirit they managed to create.

He continued: "We had a good team, we were like a unit. In each position there was a competition.

"Louis Saha, he was a good finisher. But also [Marouane] Fellaini! If we were in trouble we'd just kick the ball long, he'd control the ball on his chest and we'd play from there.

"Also the left side, I still love the left side with [Steven] Pienaar and Bainesy [Leighton Baines] just crossing the ball, finishing the ball.

"The midfield we played a lot of games together with Mikel Arteta, Phil Neville - it's just the combination. We had the players who came through the academy like Osman and Hibbert.

"We had a good team. We were not all top class players, but must of the players were maybe just under the highest level. In the dressing room we had some fun and we knew we were making some good times, not just on the pitch.

"When the moment was there and the referee blew the whistle, we just fight for the three points. We were a team."