Fifty-three-year-old Japanese soccer player Kazuyoshi Miura inks new deal with Yokohama FC

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Doug McIntyre
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Kazuyoshi Miura may be 53, but he’s not ready to end his 35-year career as a professional soccer player just yet.

On Monday, the Yokohama FC forward signed a new one-year deal with the club, which competes in the J-League, Japan’s top circuit. Miura turns 54 on Feb. 26, and the 2021 J-League season kicks off the following day.

Miura has been on Yokohama’s books since 2005, scoring 27 goals in 277 appearances. He began his pro career in 1986 with Brazilian side Santos, the club made famous by Pelé, and went on to play for Palmeiras, Coritiba, Genoa Dynamo Zagreb, Vissel Kobe and Sydney FC, among others, before returning to Japan for good.

At the international level, Miura made 89 appearances for Japan, but was controversially left off the roster for the 1998 World Cup — the country’s first appearance at the planet’s biggest sporting event — despite knocking home 14 goals during Asia’s qualifying tournament. He remains Japan’s second all-time top scorer, with 55 strikes to his credit.

Kazuyoshi Miura pictured playing last November for J-League side Yokohama FC. (Koji Watanabe/Getty Images)
Kazuyoshi Miura pictured playing last November for J-League side Yokohama FC. (Koji Watanabe/Getty Images)

Miura is already one of the oldest athletes in the history of professional team sports. Baseball great Satchel Paige made his final MLB appearance in 1966, just 15 days shy of his 60th birthday. Basketball player Pierluigi Marzorati was 54 when he played two minutes in an Italian League game in 2006, while hockey legend Gordie Howe came out of retirement to take a single shift with the International Hockey League’s Detroit Vipers in 1997, when he was 69. Almost two decades earlier, a 52-year-old Howe had skated in his final NHL game.

Miura, known by his nickname, “King Kazu,” helped Yokohama get promoted to the J-League from the second division in 2019 but played just four matches for the club in 2020. Still, he said in a statement that his love of the sport has only grown.

“Last season, I was feeling the joy of playing football at a time when the world was facing a tough situation because of the new coronavirus,” he said. “Personally it was not a satisfactory season. But my ambition and enthusiasm towards football are increasing.”

Among prominent active athletes, Miura is easily tops in age. Miami Heat forward Udonis Haslem is the NBA’s oldest current player, at 40, after Vince Carter retired last year at 43. Another 43-year-old, Zdeno Chara, just singed with the Washington Capitals, while Bartolo Colon, 47, is hoping to return to the New York Mets in 2021 after sitting out the last two baseball seasons.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, 43, is the oldest active player in the NFL.

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