Half a century no out: 51yo Japan legend Miura signs record-breaking deal at Yokohama FC

Getty Images / Zhizhao Wu / Free

Japanese footballer Kazuyoshi Miura, the oldest professional player in the sport’s history, is showing no signs of slowing down as he signs a new contract to remain with the J2 League side past his 52nd birthday.

In 2005, when Yokohama FC signed then 38-year-old Miura, conventional wisdom suggests that the club were hoping to squeeze the last remains from the Japanese’s career before the player was to ease into a well-earned retirement.

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13 seasons and 270 appearances later, Miura is going down in the record books as the game’s eldest statesman but his final chapter appears far from being written as he will play at least one more season in Japan’s second division. Incredibly, he will be 52 before the season reaches its conclusion.

Former Japan striker Kazuyoshi Miura (C) of the J-League second-tier club Yokohama FC © TORU YAMANAKA / AFP

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I will not waste it for one minute, one second,” he said of the new deal. “I think that I want to go face to face with football and go to daily training with maximum power.”

The 89-times capped player is used to reaching new milestones (the last of those caps came in 2000, by the way). In 2017 he broke Stanley Matthews’ long-standing record as football’s most vintage goalscorer, some 24 years after pipping the likes of Gary Lineker and Zico to the inaugural J-League top goalscorer honor.

Former Japan striker Kazuyoshi Miura of the J-League second-tier club Yokohama FC poses for photographers © TORU YAMANAKA / AFP

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To go even further back in time, Miura made his professional debut for Pele’s old club Santos in 1986, four years after traveling alone to Brazil as a 15-year-old to realize his dream of becoming a professional footballer.

In addition to two separate spells with Santos, he also represented Palmeiras and had two seasons in European football with Croatia Zagreb and Genoa. He won the league during his time in the Croatian capital.

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By the time his career comes to an end, Miura will have smashed football’s records for the longest professional career and, if he find the net in the upcoming season, will set a new record for the game’s oldest goalscorer, which will likely last for a very long time.


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