The 50-year-old footballer: Kazu Miura still going strong at Yokohama FC
The much-travelled frontman is showing no sign of slowing down as he celebrates a landmark birthday, with a new campaign ready to be taken in
Modern football continues to place ever-increasing emphasis on the production of young talent, with stars born while still in their teens.
This philosophy has ensured that the parameters of what constitutes ‘veteran status’ have been seriously reined in.
Nowadays, any player over the age of 30 is considered to fall into that bracket, with those who still have plenty to offer accused of heading over the hill.
One man who embodies the veteran moniker, though, is Kazuyoshi ‘Kazu’ Miura.
There is no debate to be had here, with the Yokohama FC striker still going strong at the age of 50.
He celebrates that landmark birthday today, and is showing no sign of slowing down after reaching his half-century.
What were you doing in 1986? Were you even born? Kazu was making his professional debut in that year, having left his native Japan to go in search of sporting recognition in Brazil.
Santos provided him with a first rung on the ladder, and since then the much-travelled frontman has taken in spells in Italy, Croatia, Australia and Japan.
He was the first recipient of the Asian Player of the Year award in 1993 and made 89 appearances for his country – in which he netted 55 goals – before heading into international retirement in 2000.
Some 17 years later and Kazu is still turning out a professional level, with a new contract signed in January at the Japanese second division club.
On Sunday he featured in Yokohama FC’s win over Matsumoto Yamaga and the birthday boy told reporters afterwards: “This win is a present for me from our supporters, team-mates and staff. Thank you so much!
“I felt the best atmosphere in our stadium so we had very high motivation. I hope we play every time in this atmosphere. I’ll try to keep the team motivated and progressing.”
To put his longevity into some sort of perspective, John Burridge is the oldest man to have graced the Premier League at the age of 43 years and 163 days.
The top eight performers in terms of oldest performers in the English top flight are goalkeepers, with Teddy Sheringham heading the outfield list at 40 years and 272 days.
Roger Milla famously graced the 1994 World Cup with Cameroon at the age of 42, but even his efforts are cast into a sizeable shadow by Kazu.
He really is a unique talent and a shining example of how age need not be a barrier in what has become a young man’s game.
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