Former Japanese international Kazuyoshi Miura has been in the spotlight once more in recent weeks, scoring in the Japanese J. League 2 at the ripe old age of 48.
In doing so, he has broken his own record for the oldest scorer in the history of the J. League.
At 48 years, one month and 10 days, the striker scored with a header for Yokohama FC in what was a 3-2 defeat to Jay Bothroyd’s Jubilo Iwata in the Japanese J. League 2.
After the game, a delighted Miura said
I managed to get a good jump on the ball, it was a good header.
After ageing another 14 days, the evergreen striker was at it again, this time in a 2-2 draw against V-Varen Nagasaki. After the striker’s powerful header past the despairing Yuki Uekusa in goal, Miura wheeled away in celebration – showing off his dance moves in what has become synonymous with the player over his 29 year career.
The Yokohama FC striker started his career in Brazil after leaving his homeland by himself to pursue his footballing dream as a 15 year-old teenager after quitting school.
At a time when Miura was travelling to South America without any command of Portuguese or Spanish to follow a dream, most Japanese teenagers would have been eagerly awaiting the release of the Nintendo Family Computer (NES for anyone outside of Japan) a year later in 1983.
His first taste of professional football came in the same year as the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986 with the Brazilian giants Santos.
Although the youngster only featured in thirteen games for the coastal club made famous by another forward named Pelé, his time in Brazil wasn’t a waste as it brought him his first taste of Fustal, in which he picked up the close control and skills that would be a feature of his game for years to come.
After returning to Japan in 1990 before the inaugural J. League with Yomiuri FC, which later became Verdy Kawasaki, the striker quickly became the darling of Japanese football and won four league titles – the last two of the Japanese Soccer League and the first two of the new J. League.
Shortly after becoming the Asian Footballer of the Year, ‘King Kazu’ as he is affectionately known, became the first Japanese to play in the Italian Serie A when he joined Genoa in 1994.
Although his time in Italy wasn’t very fruitful, scoring only one goal in the Genoa derby, it paved the way for other Japanese to head overseas in the following years including the legendary Hidetoshi Nakata with Perugia in 1998.
Miura returned from his loan spell a year later and continued to find the back of the net for both Verdy Kawasaki and the Japanese national team, scoring 18 goals in 19 games for the latter in 1997.
The lion’s share of those goals came in just two World Cup qualifying games, scoring a double hat-trick against Macau and four against Uzbekistan in Tokyo.
Although the player couldn’t play in a World Cup, he scored an incredible 55 goals in 89 matches for the Samurai Blue to end his international career as Japan’s second highest scorer behind Kunishige Kamamoto who has 80 goals.
After a 12 year international hiatus, the player featured in the 2012 Futsal World Cup held in Thailand. Although Japan could only get past the Group stage – going out in the next round, the player commented,
Playing at the FIFA Futsal World Cup is the ultimate for a futsal player. I’m proud to have been offered this chance, and it’s given me tremendous motivation. Although it’s a different category of football, it’s not a matter of one being superior to another. Playing in a World Cup is my dream and my goal.
After a five year stint with Vissel Kobe and two more spells overseas with Dinamo Zagreb and Sydney FC respectively, the striker has been with his current club since 2005, mainly playing in the second tier of the Japanese system.
What happens next in the player’s remarkable career is anyone’s guess – can he become the World’s oldest scorer? Only time will tell…