Japanese player Kazuyoshi Miura, 53, will stay with Yokohama FC

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Kazuyoshi Miura may be 53 years old, but he’s not ready to end his 35-year career as a professional footballer.

On Monday, the Yokohama FC striker signed a new one-year deal with the club, which competes in the J-League, Japan’s top racetrack. Miura will turn 54 on February 26th and the 2021 J-League season will begin the next day.

Miura has been on Yokohama’s books since 2005, scoring 27 goals in 277 games. He began his professional career in 1986 at the Brazilian club Santos, the club known for Pelé, and played for Palmeiras, Coritiba, Genoa Dynamo Zagreb, Vissel Kobe and Sydney FC, among others, before finally returning to Japan.

Internationally, Miura made 89 appearances for Japan, but was controversially struck off the squad for the 1998 World Cup – the country’s first appearance at the world’s largest sporting event – despite scoring 14 goals during the Asian qualifying tournament. With 55 goals, he remains Japan’s second top scorer of all time.

Kazuyoshi Miura played for J-League club Yokohama FC last November. (Koji Watanabe / Getty Images)

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

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

“Last season I had the joy of playing football at a time when the world was in a difficult position due to the new coronavirus,” he said. “Personally, it was not a satisfactory season. But my ambition and enthusiasm for football is increasing. “

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

The 43-year-old Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady is the oldest active player in the NFL.

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