Kazu still ‘King’ at 50 after birthday start

Yokohama FC striker Kazuyoshi Miura on Sunday celebrated his 50th birthday perhaps the only way he could: featuring on the pitch in a 1-0 opening-day win over Matsumoto Yamaga in the 2017 Meiji Yasuda J2 League.

The Samurai Blue legend known popularly as “King Kazu” showed little indication that he’s ready to slow down in his 32nd season of professional football, playing a hearty 65 minutes in his starting appearance before being subbed off to applause from both home and away supporters at Mitsuzawa Stadium.

The appearance refreshed Miura’s perhaps-unbeatable record as the J.League’s oldest player, adding to a list of career accomplishments that includes time spent in clubs across the world and even an appearance for Japan in the 2012 FIFA Futsal World Cup.

“I felt like crying when I arrived at the stadium and there were fans congratulating me,” Miura told the league’s official website after the match. “I was thinking more about winning the match than my birthday. But to be able to stand on this pitch at 50 and play with everyone is truly a blessing.

“I don’t have any particularly special plans (after turning 50); I just want to focus on earning appearances, scoring goals, and staying out on the pitch for as long as possible.”