With the departure of Tim Howard for Colorado Rapids
in June 2016, incoming Everton manager Ronald Koeman moved to fill what he viewed as an urgent void by bringing in his compatriot, Maarten Stekelenburg, from Fulham for a nominal fee.
33 at the time, Stekelenburg brought with him a wealth of experience, having spent nine years at Ajax in his native Netherlands before moving to Serie A with AS Roma in 2011 for €6m.
After two seasons in Italy, he was picked up by Fulham but he only spent one full season at Craven Cottage before moving out on loan form 2014-15 at Monaco where he was used primarily in the cups and made just one league appearance, and then spending the next season on loan at Southampton with Koeman.
Stekelenburg reached the pinnacle of his career to date in 2010 after he had succeeded Edwin van der Saar as his country's first-choice goalkeeper under then manager Bert van Marwijk.
The Haarlem-born 'keeper was the man selected between the posts at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa where the Netherlands made it all the way to the final, only to be beaten by Andres Iniesta's strike in extra time.
Stekelenburg was also in goal for the Dutch at Euro2012 and played in all three groups games as the Oranje flamed out, finishing bottom of their group.
He played a dominant role in Everton's pre-season preparations, and
appeared to be usurping Joel Robles for the № 1 jersey, despite wearing
№ 22 for his first season at Everton. In the end, senior
appearances between the pair were evenly split, with neither really
performing convincingly enough in the Everton goal, and Ronald Koeman
would make it a priority to bring in a star young keeper by the name of
Jason Pickford early on in the 2017 summer
Stekelenburg became first in line behind Pickford, and made a couple of
appearances in Europa League and League Cup games before succumbing to a
groin injury in October 2017 which would require surgery in November and the
recovery would sideline him for the next 3 months.
With Joel Robles one of the early departures under Marco Silva in the
summer of 2018, Stekelenburg's place as understudy to Pickford seemed secure for
the final year of his contract, with Stekelenburg playing all but one
half of six pre-season friendlies before Pickford returned from his
post-World Cup sojourn. And that must have been sufficient grounds for
Marco Silva and Marcel Brands to somewhat surprisingly grant the aging
stopper a new 2-year contract running through June 2020.
He would play in only a couple of League Cup ties until
Everton's premature exit put paid to that in October 2018 and he remained Pickford's
understudy for the duration, only getting a runout for the first half of
the friendly against Gor Mahia in November. The arrival of
Jonas Lössl in June 2019, apparently jumping
ahead of the talented Joao Virginia in the
pecking order behind Pickford, seemingly increased the competitive
incentives for the role of understudy, with Stekelenburg making no more
appearances as the end of his contract loomed at the end of the 2019-20
season, disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
After the Premier League got going again in June 2020, Stekelenburg
agreed a short-term contract extension to cover the remainder of the
disrupted season but would transfer to Ajax once the campaign concluded in July.