Kazuyoshi Miura, born in February 26th 1967, is a professional soccer player from Shizuoka prefecture. Still playing in the J. League for Yokohama FC at the age of 50, he is known as the oldest professional soccer player in the world. Affectionately called “Kazu” and “King Kazu”, he is a critical part of the Japanese football history.
He entered the prestigious Shizuoka Gakuen School in 1982, but only 8 months later in December he left school and went off alone to Brazil. There he started learning football in Clube Atletico Juventus that used Estadio Rua Javari as their home field. In 1976 he signed a professional contract with the Santos FC and after playing on different teams he moved to XV de Jau, where he had played during his youth. Scoring the league’s first goal against the famous SC Corinthians as a Japanese player he let the entire nation know his name.
In 1990 he again signed with Santos FC and in the match against SE Palmeiras he left his mark by scoring 1 goal and 1 assist. It was at this time, when it seemed like the J. League might become a reality, that Miura moved back to Japan to join Yomiuri FC (presently: Tokyo Verdy).
When the J. League started, it was Miura, who supported Verdy during their golden age. In 1992 and 1993 he won the Player of the Year award in Japan, along with several other titles.
He gradually became a player that would lead Japanese soccer with both his name and actions.
From 1994 to 1995 he played for Genoa CFC in Serie A and gathered attention as the first Asian player in Serie A. However in his debut match against A.C. Milan he collided with Franco Baresi and had to withdraw from the match due to injury.
After his comeback he scored a goal against U.C Sampdoria in the Derby of the Lantern, but other than that didn’t do anything that stood out and after the end of the season he returned to Verdy Kawasaki.
After returning to Verdy he shined as the top scorer, leading the team to victory in the Emperor’s Cup and showing great vigor, but gradually his performance started to decline due to injuries and his growing age, which also began to have a toll on his determination. Moreover with the parent company withdrawing from the team, Kazu, as a veteran player with a high annual salary became a target for downsizing.
After that he played for different teams, like Dinamo Zagreb, Kyoto Sanga FC, Vissel Kobe, Sydney FC and from 2006 has been with Yokohama FC. Playing for Yokohama FC he kept renewing the record for being the oldest goal scorer in the J. League. In March 12th 2017 during the match against Thespakusatsu Gunma he rewrote the record for being the oldest goal scorer at 50 years 14 days old, surpassing England’s Stanley Matthews’ previous record of 50 years and 5 days.
Miura has also played for the Japan national team for many years, as well as helped winning the first AFC Asian Cup that was held in Hiroshima in 1992. In the following year 1993, he scored several goals as the team’s ace striker at the FIFA World Cup Asian Qualification matches, but in the final qualifier match against Iraq they let their opponents equalize during loss time. Japan nearly qualified and finally failed to get the chance of entering the main event in USA, which was as agonizing defeat for Miura and other players.
In the 1997 FIFA World Cup Qualification round for France, Miura scored 4 points in the first match, but after that Kazu failed to produce any results and in the end he was dropped from the list of players to participate in the 1998 FIFA World Cup even though Japan National team advanced to the final tournament for the first time. That’s why he still continues to play without having fulfilled his childhood dream of appearing in the FIFA World Cup.