Kazuyoshi Miura has led a remarkable life. Known as King Kazu in his native Japan, his career has spanned more than 3 decades. In fact, with his most recent signing to second-tier J-League Football Club Yokohama for the 2017-2018 season, he begins his 33rd year as a contracted player.
A native of the Japanese prefecture Shizuoka, he is famously flamboyant, performing his trademark “Kazu Dance” when he scores a goal. He has also been known to accept awards wearing scarlet red suits. And he shows no signs of wanting to slow down.
At 51 years old, Miura holds the records for oldest ever goal-scorer and player in a professional Football match. The record holder of both of these before him was English great Stanley Matthews, who had the title for 52 years. Part of his incredible streak is that he has been lucky with injuries and has never had to undergo any operations, but his talent has also played a huge role.
While his illustrious career may already have peaked, as he is still a valuable asset to his team. In the extraordinary man’s own words, he wants to keep playing Football with all his might, and hopes to keep growing as a player.
Playing Across the World
Coincidentally, Miura kicked off his career when he was exactly the inverse of the age he is now; just 15 years old. That was when, in 1982, he travelled to Brazil to further his career prospects. He was rewarded with a pro contract with Santos, who many will be familiar with as the place where Pele spent most of his career.
King Kazu had stints with several clubs in Brazil, and then returned to Japan in 1990. This was when his career reached its zenith; he was both Top Scorer and Player of the Year in 1993. In the same year he was crowned Asian Player of the Year; the first Japanese footballer to get this prestigious honour. He also scored 14 goals in qualifying for the 1998 World Cup, which was instrumental in getting his national team to that event for the very first time.
Miura’s professional life has included stints with Dinamo Zagreb and Sydney FC, and he also has the distinction of becoming the first Japanese player to compete on Italian soil when he scored in the Genoa Darby. But Yokohama is probably where his career will finish; he has been there since 2005 and retired from international Football in 2000.
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Multiple Football Accolades
In addition to the honours already mentioned, King Kazu has accumulated many others. Most notably, he was part of the Samurai Blues JFA team that won Japan’s first AFC Asian Cup, back in 1992. His fans were surprised in 1998 when, despite getting Japan to the World Cup, he was not selected to play in the tournament itself. And now, since he is officially retired from the international stage, this is one contest that he will never get to give his all in.
The sheer volume of Miura’s career is also impressive. In 89 international Football appearances, he scored a very respectable total of 55 goals. During his time at Yokohama he has racked up 243 appearances, with teammates who are less than half his age. The next-oldest outfield player is nearly 20 years younger, at a spritely 34.
With his determination, skill and popularity, King Kazu may well last many more Football seasons. In fact, he jokingly told The Japan Times last year that he would stop playing the day he died, and that could end up being the case!