The year that Kazuyoshi Miura started his professional soccer career, Larry Bird was the MVP of the NBA Finals, Jack Nicklaus became the oldest Masters winner at age 46 and LeBron James was only 2 years old. Now just shy of his 51st birthday, Miura, a forward for Yokohama FC in Japan, has signed a contract extension, which will allow him to embark on his 33rd season as a professional soccer player.
He’s known as “King Kazu,” and having played in 12 matches last season and scoring a goal, it seems like Miura still has a lot left in the tank to compete with guys half his age.
“I could safely renew my contract this season again,” he said, following the announcement. “I will always play futbol with all my might and hope to grow as a player.”
According to his website, which keeps a running tally of his contributions on the field, he’s played 36,932 minutes and notched 162 goals and 52 assists. He’s never received a red card either.
On March 5, 2017, Miura became the oldest person to ever appear in a pro soccer match and the oldest to score a goal in competition.
“I would never have imagined it,” he told Japan Times. “When I was in my 20s, I never would have thought I would still be playing when I was 50. I wouldn’t even have thought I would be still playing in my 40s. It would have been inconceivable.
“I’m still able to play simply because I like soccer. I’ve also been very lucky with injuries. I’ve never had an operation.”
Miura’s start in soccer came when he decided to leave home all by himself at 15 years old and develop his skills in Brazil. Four years later at the age of 19, he signed his first professional contract with Brazilian club Santos. Following that, he signed with Genoa in Italy. During his 32-year career, he has played for 13 different teams across South America, Europe, Australia and Asia. He also appeared 89 times for Japan’s national team, accounting for 55 of their goals.
How many years will Miura’s career actually span when all is said and done? That remains to be seen, but for now, we’ll just enjoy each inspiring minute he’s on the pitch.