Kazuyoshi Miura: Japanese striker, 52, signs new Yokohama FC contract

By Ciaran VarleyBBC Three
Kazuyoshi Miura watches Yokohama FC in 2017
Kazuyoshi Miura made his professional debut in 1986 - the year MK Dons manager Russell Martin was born

Japanese striker Kazuyoshi Miura is the ultimate evergreen player. His professional career started in 1986. And he's still going.

At 52 (he turns 53 in February), Miura has just signed on the dotted line to play in the J1 League, Japan's top division, for the 2020 season.

"I was able to renew my contract with Yokohama FC in the 2020 season," the player nicknamed "King Kazu" told the club's website.external-link

"I will do my best to contribute."

Just for some perspective, Miura featured in the original Fifa 96 game. There are rumoursexternal-link he'll also feature in Fifa 21.

No such show of faith from the people at Football Manager, though. They removed him from the game at 40. Come on, where's the optimism, guys?

Kazuyoshi Miura for Verdy Kawasaki, 1994
Kazuyoshi Miura in action for Verdy Kawasaki in 1994

Miura's club, Yokohama FC, have just secured promotion to the top tier. Admittedly, the veteran's involvement during the campaign was limited to three appearances (without a goal).

Yokohama FC's first game in the division, on 23 February, will be away to Vissel Kobe, for whom one Andres Iniesta - the Spain and Barcelona great - plays.

This will be the first time Miura has played in the top division since 2007, when he was 40. Think about that. What were you doing in 2007? SATs?

Miura playing for Japan against Brazil in 1995
Miura pictured playing against Brazil, the country in which he started his professional football career, in 1995

He retired from international football 20 years ago, after winning 89 caps for Japan.

Miura was also born in the same month as Italy legend Roberto Baggio, who retired in 2004. In 2017, he broke former Stoke, Blackpool and England player Sir Stanley Matthews' record as the oldest professional to score a goal.

After being excluded from Japanese squad, ahead of World Cup 1998
After being excluded from Japanese squad, ahead of World Cup 1998

His 30-plus-year career has included stints in Brazil, Italy and Croatia.

Miura's milestones

  • In 1982, aged just 15, Miura left Japan to travel to Brazil to pursue his football dream. He was eventually signed by Santos, for whom he made his professional debut in 1986 at the age of 19.
  • Miura left Santos for Palmeiras later that same year. One of his team-mates at Palmeiras was Mirandinha, who in 1987 became the first Brazilian to play in English football after joining Newcastle United for £575,000.
  • Miura was top scorer and most valuable player in the inaugural Japanese J.League season in 1993, seeing off star imports such as Gary Lineker and Zico to both accolades.
  • His J.League exploits saw him become the first Japanese recipient of the Asian Player of the Year award in 1993.
  • He made his Japan debut in 1990 and fired the country to their first World Cup finals appearance in 1998 by scoring 14 goals in qualifying. However, he was controversially omitted from the final squad for France and retired from international football two years later, having scored 55 goals in 89 appearances.
  • He has played in Europe for Genoa and Dinamo Zagreb, winning the Croatian league title with the latter in 1999.
  • Miura joined current club Yokohama FC as a 38-year-old in 2005. He has since made more than 250 league appearances for the club.

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