Japanese footballer becomes oldest professional player

Kazuyoshi Miura

Many footballers retire before 40, and although some goalkeepers keep past that age, it is rare to see a footballer still playing at 50.

That is exactly what Japanese footballer, Kazuyoshi Miura, has done by running out for J-League second division club Yokohama at 50 years and seven days, to beat a record held by the late England international, Stanley Matthews.

Miura played for 54 minutes as his team drew 1-1 draw with V-Varen Nagasaki.

The 50-year-old signed his first professional contract with Santos of Brazil in 1986 and went on to play for Palmeiras, Matsubara, CRB, XV de Jau, Coritiba, Santos, Yomiuri/Verdy Kawasaki, Genoa, Dinamo Zagreb, Kyoto Purple Sanga, Vissel Kobe, Sydney FC and Yokohama FC, which he joined in 2005.

Miura was also the first Japanese player to feature in Italy’s Serie A with Genoa in the 1994/95 season.

He led his country in qualifying for the 1998 World Cup as he scored 12 goals, but he was surprisingly dropped by national team manager, Takeshi Okada.

Okada explained the exclusion thus: “I couldn’t find a place for him even when thinking about the possibility of him being a substitute.”

He was never to appear at the World Cup as he retired from the national team in 2000 having scored 55 goals in 89 appearances but finally represented his country at the 2012 FIFA Futsal World Cup.

But despite surpassing Matthews’ landmark record, Miura told FIFA.com: “I don’t actually feel like I’ve gone past a legend.”

“I may have surpassed him in longevity but I won’t ever be able to match his statistics and the career he had,” he said.

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