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The average retirement age for footballers is 35 years old. While this is the age at which most professionals begin flourishing in their careers, it is not so for competitive sport.
It’s therefore commonplace to find young, seemingly vibrant players packing their boots at this age. However, not all do. Some players over the years have continued to play well over their 40th birthday.
Who Is The Oldest Player Still Playing?
This has got to be Kazuyoshi Miura. Born on 26th February 1967, this Japanese professional footballer has amazingly defied the odds and continues to play active football at 54 years.
Nicknamed King Kazu, Miura today plays forward for Yokohama FC, which is in the J1 league. The J1 League is the top division of Japan’s professional football league. It’s also considered to be among the top successful leagues in Asia.
Snapshot of Miura
Miura has had a stellar career from the start. From 1990 to 2000, the player played for the Japanese national team and went on to receive the first-ever IFFHS Asia’s Footballer of the Year recognition. His career took off just as Japan launched the J League in 1993, and he played well enough to become arguably Japan’s first footballer with superstar status.
‘King Kazu’ had a trademark move on the pitch called the Kazu feint. A feint, or a dummy, is when a player tricks the opposing team into thinking they are about the pass the ball, move or shoot in a particular direction, then make a different move. Besides his skills on the pitch, he also showed his personality with his famous ‘Kazu dance’ that he does after scoring or making great plays on the pitch.
Miura holds records for:
- Being the oldest J League goalscorer
- Having the longest playing career in the world
- As of 2021, he is the oldest professional footballer in the world
- The first player to get the first J League Most Valuable Player honor
- First Japanese footballer to play in Italy
- Possibly being the only professional footballer to play in five distinct decades, this is, from the 1980s to the 2000s
At the age of fifteen, Miura left Japan in 1982 to travel to Brazil as a footballer. He was signed by a youth club called Atletico Juventus in Sao Paulo. He got his first professional contract four years later from Santos. He then played with other clubs like Palmeiras and Coritiba in Brazil before returning to Japan in 1990.
Miura had played so well in Brazil that he returned to Japan, a star footballer, and joined Yomiuri SC. This, later on, became Verdy Kawasaki after the inception of the J1 League. At Yomiuri/Kawasaki, Miura was part of a team that won four league titles consecutively.
Miura also played for Genoa, Zagreb, and had a brief trial at AFC Bournemouth.
With no signs of slowing down, the impressive player renewed his contract in early 2021 at 54. But, just like his skills, his popularity has not waned wither, with more people turning up to watch matches he is in.
Retirement plans? Miura will keep everyone guessing!
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