By support

John Heitinga delivers Twitter message ahead of Everton v Liverpool

By Will Butcher

John Heitinga has claimed that the Merseyside derby between Everton and Liverpool is the “game of the year”.

The 33-year-old ex-defender is now retired from football, after hanging up his boots following a short spell with boyhood club Ajax.

Posting on his personal Twitter account, the former Everton ace revealed that he was “happy to support” his old side on Monday night as the Toffees look to secure rival victory.

Former Toffee Heitinga spent four and a half years at Goodison Park, following his £6million move from Spanish giants Atletico Madrid in 2009.

The versatile defender made a total of 140 league and cup appearances for the Blues, scoring five goals and keeping 41 clean sheets before he opted to join Fulham.

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Heitinga was part of the Everton side that last beat Liverpool back in October 2010, as Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta found the back of the net in a 2-0 win under David Moyes.

Since then, the Toffees have failed to beat Liverpool in 12 attempts. Five losses and seven draws have seen Everton fail to pick up the bragging rights for more than six years.

Ronald Koeman’s side go into Monday night’s clash at Goodison Park in high spirits, though, after securing a sublime 2-1 win against Arsenal last weekend.

Moreover, the Toffees will be buoyed by Liverpool’s current injury problems. Trio Philippe Coutinho, Danny Ings and Marko Grujic are out injured, while Joel Matip, Emre Can and Daniel Sturridge are doubts for the grudge match.

A win for Everton will see them move up to seventh after a dismal run of just two wins in 12 league and cup encounters.

In other Everton news, Leon Osman has had this to say about the Toffees’ fans.