Japanese striker Kazuyoshi Miura, who was the first person from his country to be crowned Asian Footballer of the Year in 1993 has signed a new one year contract with Japanese second division side Yokohama FC. This means that Miura, born on 26th February 1967, will still be playing football at the age of 51, making him the oldest professional football player in the world.
Miura’s record breaking career began with Brazilian club side Santos, way back in 1986, and he is currently in his 33rd season as a professional player. Upon signing the contract with Yokohama FC, Miura told Japanese news agency Kyodo, “I will always play my heart out and hope to continue to grow (as a player).” He has been at the club since 2005, signing as a 38 year-old. Having also represented clubs such as Genoa and Dinamo Zagreb, Miura has gone on to represent his country 89 times, and has scored 139 goals in the J-League, which sees him at sixth position in the list of all-time top scoring players in the J-League.
Here are a few facts from Miura’s amazingly long career:
- Miura left Japan alone at the age of just 15 in 1982 to pursue his dream of playing professional football and reached Brazil. It was there that he signed with Santos, four years later in 1986 and made his professional debut at the age of 19.
- Later in the same year, he left Santos to join Palmeiras. He would end up playing with Mirandinha at the club, who became the first Brazilian to play in English football a year later when he joined Newcastle United for a figure of half a million pounds.
- When the J-League was inaugurated in 1993, he finished the season as top scorer and won the ‘most valuable player’ award, beating the likes of Brazilian legend Zico and English star Gary Lineker to both the accolades.
- After having made his debut for the Japanese national team in 1990, Miura eventually led his country to their first ever appearance at the FIFA World Cup in 1998 having scored 14 goals in the qualification process. However, he was excluded from the Japanese squad for the World Cup in controversial circumstances and retired from international football two years later, having scored 55 goals in 89 matches.
- He has made over 200 appearances for Yokohama FC since joining the club in 2005.
‘King Kazu’ will surely go down as a legend of Japanese football when he does decide to bring his career to an end. Here are some clips of him scoring goals over the years, including one scored at the age of 50!