In the modern game, a player is described as being in the twilight years of their career as soon as they reach the other side of 30. For Kazuyoshi Miura, he was reaching that stage in the late 1990s – so it’s rather incredible to discover the Japanese striker is still playing professional football today.
In fact, Miura recently signed a new contract with his Japanese second division club Yokohama FC – despite being 51-years-old.
The Shizuoka-born striker started his career all the way back in 1986 and was born in the same month as Italy legend Roberto Baggio. By comparison, Baggio retired in 2004.
A year after Baggio retired, Miura joined his current club Yokohama FC. Having spent 13 years at the Japanese side, he continues to rack up a remarkable number of appearances given his age.
In 2017, he netted in a league match against Thespakusatsu Gunma in order to break Sir Stanley Matthews’ record as the oldest professional footballer to score a goal.
As a 15-year-old Miura left Japan to pursue his football dream in Brazil, and even played senior football for Santos and Palmeiras – way back in 1986. For a concept of how far back this was, one of his Palmeiras teammates was Mirandinha, who the following year became the first Brazilian to play in English football when he joined Newcastle United. Miura played again for Santos in 1990.
In 1993, Miura was top scorer and most-valuable player in the Japanese J.League’s inaugural season, ahead of Gary Lineker and Zico. He also played in Europe for Genoa and Dinamo Zagreb.
Miura’s career reads as an incredible, and almost unbelievable, story of achievements and experiences across the footballing globe – and one that has continued on for longer than possibly anyone could have ever predicted.
The player himself remains humble in his attitude too, having said when signing his most recent contract with Yokohama FC: “I will not waste it for one minute, one second.”
Miura, like every football fan, understands what he has achieved is remarkable, and while some evidently incredible genetics and cardio are certainly helping the elder statesman of football along, its clear above all else that his passion for the game is what is driving him.
Truly, he is an inspiration to any footballers coming towards their careers’ proverbial end, and the footballing epitome of the idiom ‘age is just a number’.