Kazuyoshi Miura, the world’s oldest footballer and goalscorer, is not ready to hang up his boots just yet.
The Japanese legend has extended his contract with J-league outfit Yokohama FC in an agreement that will keep him at the club beyond his 54th birthday on 26 February.
That Miura is still playing top-flight professional football at that age is simply a remarkable physical feat. He’s long past the industry standard sell-by date, but there are some athletes who defy all logic and rewrite the rules on what is possible in elite sport.
But who exactly is Miura and what has he achieved during a career that has spanned over four decades?
GIVEMESPORT are on hand to provide a detailed breakdown.
The 53-year-old is a centre-forward by trade and has earned the nickname “King Kazu” in his storied career.
Miura began his career at Santos back in 1986 and played for a multitude of other clubs in Brazil, including Matsubara-PR, Clube de Regatas Brasil, Piracicaba and Coritiba, before he returned to his native Japan in 1990.
As one of the most talented Japanese players at the time, Miura then became the poster boy for the newly launched J-League in 1993.
He has spent the majority of his career in his home country, but he also had spells with Genoa and Dynamo Zagreb in the 1990s before embarking on a short-term loan with Sydney FC between October and December in 2005.
Rather remarkably, Miura has been with Yokohama FC ever since despite his diminishing quality and physicality, and he’s even transferred his expertise into a smaller-sided format of the game, featuring for Japan in the 2012 Futsal World Cup at 45 years of age.
You don’t get to continue your professional football career into your fifties without winning a few things along the way.
Miura has scooped individual accolades and collective awards aplenty during his career.
Prior to his move to Italy, Miura won back to back J-League titles in 1993 and 1994 while playing for Verdy Kawasaki, and was also named as the newly-formed domestic league’s most valuable player in 1993.
Following a hat-trick of wins for South Korea’s Kim Joo-sung between 1989 and 1991, Miura became the first ever Japanese recipient of the Asian Footballer of the Year award in 1992.
On the international front, Miura was part of the Japan side that won the Asia Cup in 1992, while he also scored 14 goals for the Samuari Blue in their qualification for the 1998 World Cup.
Despite playing a pivotal role in helping Japan reach the finals for the first time in the country’s history, Miura was controversially left out of the squad.
The injustice of such an omission earned him plenty of sympathisers in Japan and it only seemed to harness his popularity.
According to data provided by Transfermarkt, the revered Japanese super-veteran has scored 187 goals in 669 club appearances.
His record at international level is markedly more prolific, though.
In a total of 89 games Miura has found the net on 55 occasions for the Japanese national side, putting him narrowly ahead of Leicester City cult hero Shinji Okazaki (50) as the second highest goalscorer in the country’s history.
Back in 1995, Miura even made an appearance at the old Wembley Stadium in a friendly fixture against England, with the attacker pitting his wits against the likes of Alan Shearer and Gary Neville.
With his best years firmly behind him, Miura hasn’t scored since 2017 when his strike against Thespakusatsu Gunma made him the oldest goalscorer in the history of Japanese football at 50 years and 14 days old.
Miura still holds the Guiness World Record for the oldest goalscorer thanks to his aforementioned strike in 2017 – and that achievement will certainly take some beating.
In Japan the Shizuoka-born star commands ethereal status among the adoring population.
Sean Carroll, a football journalist based in Japan, had this to say about Miura’s otherworldly reputation.
“He is intrinsically tied up with the birth and development of professional football in Japan… he has achieved a god-like status, in some ways I guess similar to [Diego] Maradona in Argentina.”
Given his seemingly perennial appetite for the game it’s natural to ponder when Miura will ever decide to call time on his career, though if anything his enthusiasm for the sport appears to be growing rather than diminishing.
“Yes, I still enjoy playing football – every moment,” said Miura. “Really, I enjoy it even more than when I was in Brazil.”
One of football’s most inspiring stories continues.