East Asia Japan

King Kazu Extends Contract, Set to Play Beyond 54th Birthday

Yokohama FC’s very own Kazuyoshi Miura has once again signed a one-year extension on his contract with the club, ensuring that the evergreen striker would get at least one more year of professional football. The extension meant that 53-year old King Kazu is set to broke more records in the 2021 season as the J.League’s oldest active player, with a possibility of him playing past his 54th birthday.

Signing his contract extension on Monday, Miura relishes the prospect of embarking on his 36th year as a professional footballer.

“I have renewed my contract with Yokohama FC for the 2021 season,” Miura said in a statement, “Last season, the world was in a difficult situation due to the coronavirus pandemic, but thanks to many people, we are able to feel the joy of playing football. Last season I felt that I did not play out my best performances, but my ambitions and passion for football have kept growing. I will play more games this season and would like to work hard every day toward contributing to my team’s victory.”

Miura will turn 54 just one day before the 2021 J.League 1 season kicks-off.

Unlike most modern Japanese football stars who started their careers from academies of Japanese clubs, Miura’s early days saw him start off at Brazilian giants Santos as a 19-year old all the way back in 1986, with professional football still absent from Japan until at least 1992. By the time Miura made his professional debut, FC Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi and Paris Saint-Germain’s very own Neymar were not even born yet.

Miura made his name in Brazil, turning out for Palmeiras and Coritiba among others, before he returned to Japan in 1990, joining Yomiuri SC. Professionalism came to Japan in 1992 and Yomiuri became Verdy Kawasaki (now Tokyo Verdy), with Miura sticking with the club as they entered a brand new era. During his eight years with Verdy, Miura won the J.League title twice, in 1993 and 1994. Miura also had a brief loan stint at Genoa in Italy during the 1994-95 season, becoming the first Japanese player to play in the Serie A.

A spell at Croatian giants Dinamo Zagreb was next, before Miura returned to Japan with Kyoto Purple Sanga (now Kyoto Sanga). He only spent one year with Kyoto, moving to Kansai rivals Vissel Kobe at the beginning of the 2001 season. Spending four years with the men from Hyogo Prefecture, Miura then moved to Yokohama FC in 2005, where he stayed ever since bar a brief loan spell at A-League powerhouses Sydney FC in 2005.

Retiring from national team duty in 2000, Miura won 89 caps and scored 55 goals for the Japan national team, winning the 1992 AFC Asian Cup with the Samurai Blue in the process.

On March 12th 2017, Miura scored a goal for Yokohama FC in a J.League 2 match against Thespakusatsu Gunma that Yokohama FC won 1-0, becoming the oldest player to score in a professional football match in the process. He oversaw two promotions and one relegation alongside Yokohama FC and managed to help his club survive the 2020 J.League 1 season with a string of cameo appearances. One of those appearances – a 2-1 home win over Vissel Kobe – saw him play against FC Barcelona legend Andres Iniesta on the pitch of the NHK Spring Mitsuzawa Stadium.