He began his career at Ajax, playing 282 games over nine seasons and winning nine honours including two Eredivisie titles. Stekelenburg went on to play for Roma, Fulham, Monaco, Southampton and Everton.
Stekelenburg made his debut for the Netherlands in 2004, and earned 58 caps in total as of September 2017. He was understudy to Edwin van der Sar at the 2006 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 2008, then was first choice as he helped his nation to the 2010 FIFA World Cup final and played at UEFA Euro 2012.
Stekelenburg began his career at Zandvoort '75 before joining VV Schoten, which he left for Ajax when he was 15 years old. He made his official debut for Ajax on 24 February 2002, in a game against NAC Breda. At the start of the 2002–03 season he won his first prize when Ajax won the Johan Cruijff-schaal. In 2004, he and Ajax won the Eredivisie championship, having played 10 matches that season.
He became the first choice goalkeeper at Ajax in the 2005–06 season. In 2006, he won his first KNVB Cup. At the start of the 2006–07 season he won his second Johan Cruijff-schaal, which he helped his team defend the next season, and later on in 2006–07, he won his second KNVB Cup.
Stekelenburg was named Ajax "Player of the Year" for the 2007–08 season, succeeding Wesley Sneijder. During the 2008–09 season, he lost his place in the goal to Kenneth Vermeer due to injuries. He re-established himself as the first-choice keeper under new manager Martin Jol and subsequently had a very strong season for both Ajax and the Dutch national side. During the 2009–10 season Stekelenburg went on to have a consistent season, playing in all of Ajax's Eredivisie games and Europa League games, after they were knocked out of the UEFA Champions League in the group stages. Stekelenburg unfortunately sustained a finger injury which kept him out for the remainder of the season. He made a total of 51 appearances in the 2010–11 season in all competitions.
After winning the 2010–11 Eredivisie on 15 May 2011, Stekelenburg dropped the trophy while standing on top of the Ajax team coach with Vertonghen. He won Ajax Player of the Year for the second time.
On 1 August 2011, it was announced that Stekelenburg had officially transferred to Roma for €6.325 million fee plus bonuses, making him the first Dutch footballer to ever play for the Italian club. He picked the no. 24 shirt, which is the day his son was born. He made his debut on 11 September 2011, against Cagliari.
On 3 June 2013, Roma sporting Director Franco Baldini confirmed that he had finalised a deal with Premier League club Fulham for the sale of Stekelenburg. A couple of days later, Fulham announced on 5 June 2013 that Stekelenburg had signed on a four-year deal for an undisclosed fee; Roma disclosed the fee was €5.6 million. He made his debut on 17 August, in a 1–0 win away to Sunderland, however he came off injured in the second half and was replaced by David Stockdale. He returned on 21 October at a win against Crystal Palace, but went on to lose the next four starts in a row.
Following the sacking of René Meulensteen as Fulham manager, Stekelenburg was dropped to the bench in favour of Stockdale by Felix Magath, and following Fulham's relegation and Stockdale's departure, lost his place in the squad altogether, as Magath favoured Jesse Joronen and Marcus Bettinelli.
On 9 August 2014, Stekelenburg joined AS Monaco on a season-long loan. With Danijel Subašić as the regular goalkeeper, Stekelenburg was preferred for cup games, making his debut in the last 16 of the Coupe de la Ligue away to Lyon on 17 December. After a 1–1 draw at the Stade de Gerland, he helped Monaco win 5–4 in a penalty shootout by saving from Jordan Ferri. In the semi-finals on 4 February 2015 against SC Bastia at the Stade Louis II, it again went to penalties after a goalless draw. He saved from Guillaume Gillet and Giovanni Sio, but Monaco were eliminated nonetheless. His sole Ligue 1 appearance came on 22 March away to Reims, a 3–1 victory. On 1 June, the club announced that Stekelenburg would return to Fulham, as his season long loan had expired.
On 22 June 2015, Southampton secured the services of Stekelenburg on a season-long loan. He made his debut for the club on 30 July in the third qualifying round of the season's Europa League, a 3–0 win over Vitesse Arnhem at St Mary's Stadium. He made his Premier League debut for the Saints in a 2–2 draw away to Newcastle United on the opening day of the 2015–16 Premier League season.
On 1 July 2016, Everton, managed by compatriot Ronald Koeman, announced that they had signed Stekelenburg from Fulham for an undisclosed fee. He made his debut on 13 August as the Toffees began their campaign with a 1–1 home draw against Tottenham, and on 15 October he saved penalties from Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Agüero to ensure the same result away to Manchester City. Stekelenburg was limped off the field after suffering from a leg injury in the 63rd minute of the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park on 19 December 2016. Stekelenburg returned to action in April 2017 when Everton manager Ronald Koeman dropped Joel Robles after a run of 17 consecutive starts by the Spanish keeper came to an end.
Stekelenburg was a member of the Dutch squad at the 2001 FIFA World Youth Championship. He made his international debut for the Netherlands on 3 September 2004 against Liechtenstein, whom they beat 3–0.
He was called up by manager Marco van Basten for the squad of the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, but he did not play any game during this tournament as Edwin van der Sar was first choice.
Despite his international debut in 2004, Stekelenburg was called up to Van Basten's Euro 2008 squad to play as understudy to Van der Sar. He took part in the Group C match against Romania on 17 June. With the Netherlands already having qualified for the quarter-finals, the coach fielded a second-string side, to give players like Stekelenburg a game. He kept a clean sheet in the 2–0 win at the Stade de Suisse in Bern.
In a September 2008 friendly match against Australia, Stekelenburg was sent off after 44 minutes of the first half for fouling Joshua Kennedy, becoming the first goalkeeper of the Dutch national side to receive a red card.
After Van der Sar's retirement from the national team, Stekelenburg became the Netherlands' first-choice goalkeeper under manager Bert van Marwijk. Stekelenburg was included in the preliminary squad for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. On 27 May 2010, Van Marwijk announced that he would be part of the final squad of 23 participating in the competition. Stekelenburg helped the Netherlands reach the final of the competition against Spain by making big saves throughout the tournament, memorably the save from Kaká in the Netherlands 2–1 victory against Brazil in the quarter-finals. He conceded six goals in the whole tournament, two of them being penalty kicks. Despite making a number of saves in the final, he ended up on the losing side, conceding the only goal of the game to Andrés Iniesta in the 116th minute of the match.
Stekelenburg played all three matches in goal during the group stages of UEFA Euro 2012 as the Netherlands finished bottom of their group.
On 7 October 2016, 4 years after his last cap, Stekelenburg started in a 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualification match against Belarus, which ended in a 4–1 victory to Netherlands.As of match played 20 September 2017
As of match played 13 November 2016
Eredivisie: 2003–04, 2010–11
KNVB Cup: 2005–06, 2006–07, 2009–10
Johan Cruijff Shield: 2002, 2006, 2007
FIFA World Cup Runner-up: 2010
AFC Ajax Player of the Year: 2008, 2011
Stekelenburg is deaf in one ear.